ACT TWO - Sc. 2 - poetry & ephemera:

Guy Kettelhack


A continued attempt to convey a private life in public

"Act Two" - with what amounts to "scene one" - covers poems written daily since late June 2006 through December 30, 2006:

http://guyblakekett.googlepages.com/acttwo-guykettelhack-poetry%26ephemera

Here, in Scene Two, begins New Year's Eve's offering - to kick off the next surge of whatever it is I do through (with any luck) the first half of 2007. As before, if you want to know who Guy Kettelhack is, feel free to click Google's link which will reveal a good deal of what I call the full appalling panoply of me:

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&ie=ISO-8859-1&q=%22Guy+Kettelhack%22&btnG=Google+Search

You can contact me via email either at

GuyBlakeKett@aol.com

or

GuyBlakeKett@gmail.com

Hope you enjoy my forays.

Cheers,

Guy

 

May 12, 2007

 

The Larger Thing

 

The larger thing may be to want to do the larger thing.

I don't know. Here is what I think I know. My blood is

saturated with iambic flow. I cannot seem not to incline

myself to a reflexive use of rhyme. My deepest stabs at

thinking have produced exactly this: the sense each moment

is a kiss, completely separate from any other kiss. The largest

hoodwinking we've undergone we've labeled ‘time.’ I hug

 

the notion that perception is an unplumbed ocean; and to

taste the consummation in its indivisibility is to experience

eternity. The only course that’s possible is poetry. And if

there is fraternity its sources and effects all happen far

beyond the reach of any human mind. Every time we grab,

imagination stalls: we fall behind. Every time we fall for an idea

we fetishize. Every time that we decide we've measured

 

out the size of anything we're wrong. To long is to survive.

The moment we quit longing we metastasize into another

creature that can long again with every breath. (This is what is

known as death.) A warring family of chimpanzees: a lazy

hound-dog scratching fleas: I have about as much capacity

for understanding as a walnut tree has knees. The cliché

of the elephant right in the middle of the room that no one sees?

 

(The larger thing, the larger thing.) Zoom up to a single pore

just to the left of her right eye – a speck of aperture in

the respiring skin of her thin upper lid: sigh to see it fold back

into darkness, thence to light, each time she blinks: caught

among a sea of her inimitable cells: inure yourself to their

unconscionable swells and dips and drink it up – and its

surrounding air – as if the whole thing, plausibly, were there.

 

 

May 11, 2007

 

Hot Latino Kid in Gayest Chelsea

 

Hot Latino kid in gayest Chelsea, the resplendent

bad-boy king of all the all-but-shirtless tribe of muggy

manimals who pop out when the day’s as tumidly

 

and luridly excessive as today – this strange

inordinately humid May – pushes through the crowd

on Twenty-Third Street, makes my day: brushes

 

my T-shirted shoulder with his rude sweet smooth

tan muscled arm, looks into my eye and smolders

charm: “Hey daddy got it goin’ on.” A drop of sweat

 

like God-juice glistens at the line between his tawny

forehead, amber hair – what drug-induced implosion

may have been a source in him I frankly do not care –

 

he leers and lumbers like a drunken Roman gladiator

as he passes by: I get a contact high. I'm fifty-six –

still in the mix! – propelled and sped ahead as if by

 

pixies: squealing in the sunny density of this Brazilian-

seeming steaming afternoon, they swoop and swoon

and glide: make sure that I don't break my stride.

 

 

May 10, 2007

 

Disgusted Poem

 

I took my poem to a friend

but he was undergoing such

an anxious bend of trouble

that my poem bowed politely,

 

bubbled softly to a background

hum, and waited until later –

when I took my poem to my

prosthodontist who dived south

 

into my mouth to prick its wet

flesh with a needle several dozen

times – well, eight or nine –

and while she rummaged, prodded,

 

wrangled and beset each gum

my poem cordially decided

to stay mum – and so, though

I was numb, I brought my poem

 

home to bed with me and plumped

it on my pillow thinking this

more mellow fellow I'd become

might ease the repercussions of

 

our shared assaults – I strummed

my poem little lullabies but we

achieved, I'm tempted to

surmise, at best equivocation:

 

I dropped into sleep; my poem

raced, disgusted, off on a vacation –

where I do not know. Next time

I will not let my poem go.

 

 

May 9, 2007

 

Gay? No Way

 

A strange warm early May humidity

holds sway today: provokes a sweat:

reminds you you are flesh – and ‘gay’:

odd word! – does not convey one slick

iota of the way testosterone pursues

testosterone: nothing frolics in this

maleness: pop into the blue blue day –

 

dimensionless – an impulse – animal

in more than part – you dart: you

street-smart cat – you column growing

fat – you ape pretending to be man –

you strutting phallic insurrection – hot –

perspiring and respiring in this blue

blue day besotted by your androgens:

 

you man who wants the man within

the man: you vision – like the one

you say the Buddha had when he

ejaculated God: you strange warm early

May – you funky pit of blue blue day –

you feral mammal – wanton stray –

no way that anyone could call this gay.

 

 

May 8, 2007

 

Cadence Towards a Meaning

 

Spreading out the fiction of a life exhausts:

every stop is manufactured: memories

are pure abstraction masquerading as

the echo of an actuality: something left

some data in the brain – infinitely malleable –

virtual experience: each instant sieved,

 

discarded: what remains? – the drain.

You seek by reflex: just as dogs sniff

concrete walks for clues – effluents that

might bring news: body fluids rule for dogs;

what rules for you? Taking stock’s a mockery:

there’s nothing to sort through. You are

 

the pathways that your thoughts incise

in cerebellum and cerebrum – every synapse

scratches: you're forever in a groove. Imagine

you can stay or move: it’s all the same:

your skull-bound meat retains whatever

it’s decided in its coiled gray insentient

 

warm conniving mass is true: no pain except

the concept of a pain: no taste except

the notion of a taste: a holographic stew

and zoo. And yet a simulacrum of a soul

accrues: intensities transcend the mechanism

whose wet evidence you have been able

 

to construe. Two days ago, the day before

your birthday, you beheld an autobiographical

concoction in your mind: you conjured up

the slowly blooming time, four years ago,

before your mother’s end, that you became

her friend. “Birthday” had a meaning then.

 

 

May 7, 2007

 

On Turning 56

 

A regulated calm –

as if in memory of

what a bomb can do:

 

this vigilance is interesting.

Here is what I know

at fifty-six. Time does not

 

exist. Nothing’s lost,

nothing’s gained.

Except an ambiguity.

 

One day is not exactly

like another. There is

no other day. Point of view

 

is temperamentally

decreed. A man does

not run out of seed.

 

 

May 6, 2007

 

"I hate music but I like to sing."  

from "I Hate Music," Leonard Bernstein

 

We Like It When The Bad Boy Wins

 

Floyd Mayweather beat up Oscar de la Hoya

last night; well, Oscar did okay, but he lost.

 

(Tough you-know-what, Oscar.) Floyd is nasty:

Oscar’s a poster boy for something, not sure

 

what. Today I’ll play the violin like Floyd – fast

as his left jab: fingers nabbing at the diddly-

 

diddly measured blasts of motive in Rossini,

Haydn, Mozart – double-handed, like a Star Trek

 

android, gay and mad – and tough as Reyes
leather. Homage to big bad Floyd Mayweather.

 

 

May 5, 2007

 

Monkey Race

 

One tries to make it fit –

odd impelling hot poetic license to remit

whatever figuration the ridiculously

 

plangent sense you call your soul

requires: commit it to a goal –

one tries to see it whole –

 

one looks at other manners

of requiting other fires: assuaging

each desire as if longing mattered –

 

tries to see the symmetry – not merely

scattered bits – tries organically to fold

an origami butterfly or bird from one’s

 

dimensionally challenged wits:

flatness, surely, is absurd.

There is no up or down in space;

 

one wonders if there’s love there either.

Oh, member of the monkey race:

hand it over, take a breather.

 

 

May 4, 2007

 

Portrait of the Artist with Alzheimer’s

 

If, as I suspect is true,

each fragment of a point of view

is holographic – offers all –

my father’s sketch bewilders. Call

 

the portrait colorful or gray,

but I recall the vivid day

he drew it – bright crisp afternoon

in fall – his infant laughter soon

 

recoiling into concentration

as his pencil flew: a conflagration

in the right side of his brain.

By then, you see, he couldn’t train

 

the left side to obey him; speech

was quite beyond his reach.

But lines he tumbled onto paper

profligately grew – and taper

 

now to this drained recollection:

full of the strange circumspection

ten long years – or were they short? –

can bring. Perhaps it was a sport

 

for him – the last he would enjoy –

to wield his carbon and employ

his naked talent one more time.

Allegedly, the face was mine:

 

Cocteau, El Greco, sadly spun.

Did he remember he had reared a son?

I wonder if he wondered how.

I guess it doesn’t matter now.

 

 

May 3, 2007

 

Horoscope

 

Today you’ll flow:

relentless sex and funk.

Tomorrow: you’re debunked.

 

Perplexed: you’ll clunk.

Non compos mentis.

Scentless.

 

What foments

a moment? Gone.

Don’t rely on dawn.

 

 

May 2, 2007

 

All That I Can Conjure Up

 

 

Pregnant cherry blossoms flood the limits of

the trees on Charlton Street – this is the only week

that you can stroll beneath them, bat their clustered

petals with your fingers and they will not fall.

Specificity that blinds. There are many other kinds.

 

+

 

The fresh completeness of their absence is

befuddling. The Universe as I perceived it with them

in it had a shape. The hole they left does more

than gape. It shreds the fabric: threads are pulling

which unravel any sense that what I know or what

I've ever known is more than fabrication. Rhymes

 

that I rely on are like random lily pads across a pond:

now they coalesce into a fragile station: fairy-tale

provisions to enable me to wait for an unfathomable

train. My brain is leaking memory. My psyche is

a sieve: I think that I recall what each dead member

of my family had to give: I huddle under trumped-up

 

charges that we each knew how to laugh. I'm sure

we did but that does not amount to half of what

the sub-atomic structure of their presence meant.

My recollections of my father, mother, brother have

run dry: my solo eye is spent. I seek some semblance

of their living glory. All that I can conjure up is story.

 

+

 

Delicate imbalance: caffe-latte-colored teenaged

boy sits on the subway carefully avoiding contact:

big red baseball hat meticulously skewed and

angled backwards towards an ear: eyebrows arched

 

above the orbital entablature of his gaunt face:

sweet iconic challenge: counter to his fear. Another

momentary tale that I'm reduced to telling here.

The fresh completeness of his presence is befuddling.

 

 

May 1, 2007

 

When You Are An Alcoholic

 

When you are an alcoholic, sweet

cream of your life is to appropriate

the Universe and make it pour.

Whatever you've been given,

you want more. That's

me, all right.

And I won't

change

without

a fight.

Oh, I no

longer drink

all night. Or ever in the day.

But I'm a sot for the ecstatic anyway.

 

 

April 30, 2007

 

Secret Steel

 

Final day of April –

harbinger of May –

all its fragile cape will

flutter, fall away:

 

yet its faint whispered feel –

brief gasp – curtailed length

belies a secret steel –

formidable strength:

 

through winter to the fall

weather’s freely spent –

from balmy day to squall –

Being won't relent.

 

 

April 29, 2007

 

One Iota More

 

Listening as hard as babies do –

fragile, cognizant and grave:

tender eyes that take in every twitch

so urgently: as if to save

 

each memory, to put it in a bank –

there to call on when he needs

to fund the gaping mouth and throat of

his anxiety – he speeds

 

through savings like a womanizer

in a whorehouse. Grown-up boy:

please pray one whit less for miracles –

one iota more for joy.

 

 

April 28, 2007

 

As My Synaptic Faeries Danced

 

The seeming promise of a clemency –

as formal and as normal as the bell

that called the Dickinson’s to church

in Amherst – save resistant Emily –

now seeps its iterance into my own

resistances. My city glitters with

bright reassurances: agleam with health

 

clubs and organic greens: Kabbalah’s

chic! – a pantheism wants to lay its

thousand eyes and hands on – speak to –

everyone: beatify, caress. Blessings are

cold comfort: gratitude’s a piety: overtones

of ringing metal freeze the ear. What

I would have must be so near I cannot

 

see it and so formless it commingles

indistinguishably in my blood: altering

the ways my tongue tastes food. My

appetites are rude: they are a fright:

they're in a mood: they must be fed: today,

tonight. By my innumerable passions

am I led – meticulously wed to me in

 

a kaleidoscopic unity: a whirling daily

punctuated mad reflection on the many

in the one. I drank a quart of milk just now:

I thank the Universe for its decision

to invent the cow, and for the savvy

manner in which I have been invited

to ingest – digest – Divine through

 

the bovine: I stood there drinking, in

a trance, as my synaptic faeries

danced. When nearly all the Dickinson’s

arrived at church and cried to be

delivered to the paradisal ether from

the deathly earthly sod, Emily stayed

home, drank milk, and talked to God.

 

 

April 27, 2007

 

Rhymes With Schenectady

 

Every fifteen days or so, one ought to write another Manifesto.

I've been lax: I don't think I've hatched one since before I paid

my taxes (money going out distracts). But here I am surrounded

by the slick unnerving quivering abominably slippery detritus

of too many poets Allen Ginsberg tells me I should read! I'm sick

of Corso, Kerouac and Catullus: I’d like to sic on them a battle-axe:

stick them in a poisoned little cottage in St. Mary Mead, and let

 

Miss Marple drive them mad as she perseverates exactly how

and why they bleed so awfully much all over everything. Severing

myself from all their urgent diction, I protest that I’ve enough

inside my magic chest to entertain without resorting to their

egoistic fictions. Oh, I guess they're not so bad – not, anyway,

much worse than anyone one meets, the homeless clueless

hopeless beaten prophylactic walking tactics we call personalities –

 

let’s cut ‘em all some slack. It’s tough to get up, go, come back. But

here’s the deal. Today I say that if we are to get a leg up, we have

got to penetrate the cosmos like a flying fist, make lists of aspirations

into something more than listless wisps: alchemize the stale into

the fresh: make flesh from a synecdoche (rhymes with Schenectady)

indicating genus by referring to one telling part of it – ramming all

the universe into a quark: seeking macrocosm in the micro without

 

going too completely psycho – prize precisely what a poem is.

(Extra fizz: I remember, in Schenectady, one terribly late night when

I was just one month the younger side of twenty, I took in the whole

bejeezus of what I would spend the rest of life recovering from:

a synecdoche of softly moonlit skin: taut arms and back of somebody

called Jim. I never dared to touch, but it is not too much to say

that everything that I would ever want resided in this glimpse of him.)

 

 

April 26, 2007

 

My Granule’s Name

 

Brief encounter – pressing limits –

rude and asymmetrical incursion:

like an oyster shell – its moist

and vulnerable swell of meat

cut by a knife-edged grain of sand:

 

urgent to make room! – remand it

to another court – decide it into

virtue – shellac it to a gloss to turn

the irritant into what would dispirit

you entirely if ever you had had

 

to suffer what would now be its

unconscionable loss – beyond

which you could not imagine living.

My granule’s name was Daniel:

ghostly gift that keeps on giving

 

me reminders that if ever I suspect

I cannot outlive love, I'm wrong.

Which doesn't mean another sharp

and jabbing speck I'll want to turn

into a pearl won't come along.

 

 

April 25, 2007

 

If Only He Could Get the Damned Thing Right

 

Perfectionism gets an undeserved bad rap – pursuit of it

creates a glorious illuminating human map! Observe

the fevered artist so compelled to serve a vision that he

almost cannot breathe: determined to provision the battalions

 

in his mind and heart and lap – to send them in a sea of craft

to capture Helen – bring her back to swell the throne

his artisans have built so he can own the outcome: dwelling

in projected satisfaction of retrieving the divine to sort it

 

into legions of its avatars that he designs: combining

permutations of the objects of his talent ‘til they've granted

him reprieve: rubbing to a feathered glossy fare-thee-well

each gold and silver leaf and berry on a jeweled cormorant-

 

supported seat – which waits to bear the finished icon of

his joy and grief: to sup on meat to which the gods have only

not been summoned since he’s wrestled, thrashed and

sieved and carved and painted them into a secret bas-relief:

 

trapped to do his bidding – imprisoned by impregnable lead

laurel wreath: all this the artist would bequeath if only he

could get the damned thing right. Oh, what to do with all

the dreams and dreams and dreams one dreams at night!

 

 

April 24, 2007

 

Vegetables Having Way Too Much Fun

 

Floral orgy! – immoral sprawl – profligate pistils

and stamens and pollen – rude cannons of spore:

had enough: I can't take anymore! But they could give –

do give – a flying – ha! – try to duck! You can't.

 

Damned love juice of plants: I don't go dropping

my pants everywhere! Spasming orgasms – spewing

an amative chlorophyll stew through the air –

 

vegetables having way too much fun – indiscriminate

sex-guns ejecting ejaculates – tiny catastrophes

stream into sinuses – sneezing and wheezing:

I'd rather have fleas. Stop copulating, trees!  Please!

 

 

April 23, 2007

 

Hors de Combat

 

Sometimes you think

you'd like to have a week

where nothing happened –

each date in the calendar

 

an empty square. You'd

dive into cool Tuesday’s pool

and come up to a lovely

void – free of contact –

 

fresh – imbued with none

of the alloys that sully daily

living’s fare: uninterrupted

prayer. Then you think: why

 

wait for that? You're there.

What’s a void? – isn't

everything contact? You've

always been hors de combat.

 

Play each day – make play

a synonym for pray. Let

the silly notion drop

that you could ever stop.

 

 

April 22, 2007

 

What Aunt Helen Used to Say

 

“Been collecting since I was a little girl,

garage-saling with my Aunt Helen, may

she rest in peace. We just liked it big

and gaudy,” says the Arizona niece: lady

 

goes where it is sunny and the vendors

don't seem shady, buys what gewgaws

she can get for cheap, dangly chandeliers

and rhinestone necklaces and bracelets

 

that would make Aunt Helen weep –

and that she now brings in a heap to have

a go at Tucson’s Antiques Road Show.

America is full of fragile peculiarity – delicate,

 

unnecessary as a stash of ancient Roman

party glass. The lady wipes a tear, and

adds: “Aunt Helen used to say, ‘You

break this stuff, your ass is grass.’”

 

 

April 21, 2007

 

Potted Plant

 

What would be the perfect quatrain –

sleek as sculpted stone?

What would keep perception’s train

in situ? What great bone

 

exists to interest every dog? –

what incarnate heat

might you contrive to cut through fog

to rivet living meat?

 

You haven't time today for tomes –

an urgency afflicts –

you scramble through your batch of poems

to find a clock that ticks –

 

and you are at a loss again –

you cannot make the claim

that you've resolved the barest when,

or what, or where – or aim.

 

Must you give up? – and thus

abandon trying to trade ‘can’t’

for ‘can’ in the miraculous?

Pot another plant.

 

 

April 20, 2007

 

Almost All There is to That

 

What else is there but a poem?

I don't mean the literary thing –

I mean what happens when an idea

springs so hard and hot from that

despondency you call a heart that you

can't not respond in kind: the thing

that threads a joy through all the terrors

in your mind: the error that succeeds

 

beyond all odds: that coded calling card –

ubiquitous as gods. The weather

changed! April’s intimation of a summer

just arrived: the season’s invitation

to remain alive. The Twilight Zone

plays endlessly on Channel 44:

Rod Serling’s coruscations blast their

caverns through your psyche’s floor:

 

suddenly you feel a goring hunger

for a cake: expensive, full of butter-cream:

correlative – subjective, not objective –

for a New York City dream: the sky’s

too blue, the air too keenly sweet for

you to gainsay your great anguished

mission: to find ecstasy to eat. So you

walk down the street through Soho’s

 

weekend fantasies – too many ardors

to repeat: Dean & DeLuca serves the point:

alimentary excesses larded everywhere

throughout the joint: you see a hazelnut

gateau, just under thirty dollars, buy it,

and you go. You're home now – had

a biteful of the fat. And, like a poem,

that is almost all there is to that.

 

 

April 19, 2007

 

Leaks

 

Lovely to be tired. Jagged heavy

dream-like shards of psyche rise

and fall – like chunks calved off

 

an iceberg in the global warming

of your head – a heat-kissed cold –

and in its steaming you transcend

 

(because forget) your categories:

young or old? Who knows. You

know you have a grand ridiculous

 

capacity for sex: disinhibition of

fatigue! – you're prey to that and

many other lovely hexes. Your own

 

meddling hand will do, and does,

and after it has had its mad delicious

little rendezvous, you sink back,

 

happy, into mental fuzz. Yesterday

was full: today is full of leakage.

But you don't mind. Leaks feel fine.

 

 

April 18, 2007

 

Anticipating the Event

 

To buy the fiction of the Future

one selects fastidiously from

the chocolate box of an imagined

Past. (Try not to rhyme this line

with “It won't last.”) Soft

centers for the sad parts, nuts

for when our hearts were broken:

 

caramel for all the endless

yammering that pained our jaws:

imagining that we foresee

the mystery – can know internal laws.

But we don't know what’s going on:

we're suckers for a con. We think

we understand what’s fleet, or slow,

 

or short, or long: we're wrong.

I expect that through the afternoon

I shall continue to project I'll play

the violin tonight as an embellishment

to someone’s bright unfurling:

try to gild his gorgeous song.

Or so I bravely vow – or so it seems

 

right now. Perhaps the cabaret

that I'm to play in plays already –

now is then and here is there.

But that this current instant co-exists

with it I couldn't swear. Sometimes

I think, like cabaret, the whole

shenanigan of life is one big dare.

 

 

April 17, 2007

 

Her Complicated Arms

 

Where is everybody going? I wonder

what he wants, she wants. Talking,

chewing, walking: like they had ten

destinations all at once! How wonderfully

each creature sneaks a conscious choice

or two out of its autonomic being: training

ears and eyes to follow idiosyncratic lines

of hearing, seeing. Breathe and blink –

seethe and dream, perceive, believe,

conceive – and think: everything’s alive.

 

Molecules efficiently contrive to get from

here to there. My evanescence sweeps

into my city’s air, corpuscularly swarms

into her complicated arms: half-punchy

from her changing opalescent light

and dark unreasonable charms. It’s cold:

Manhattan April doesn't seem to want

to have a Spring, but that won't stop a thing.

Each atom in her will insist on having

its outrageous semi-conscious fling.

 

 

April 16, 2007

 

Did Someone Tell a Joke?

 

Artifacts – as if the energy of momentariness

could take a form! – and one trips badly on “as if.”

I look at all my glassy, brassy, layered, woolen,

wooden, plaster, paper things: and wonder what

still echoes – rings – from their forgotten geneses –

 

when they were newly warm. A Bach orchestral

suite plays on the radio, and in its fugal densities –

at thousands of removes from where and when

it was composed – one tries to smell the harsh

tobacco – feel the German summer sweat – or how

 

he froze in dry dark iron cold of Leipzig winter night –

what it was like to write the thing in candlelight – 

and who was yelling, laughing, crying, dying in

a bedroom to the left or right: one takes on faith

Johann Sebastian Bach left essence: more than ink:

 

something live to link us: keys to turn into a lock.

I look for something like the shock I felt when

I experienced the first of him or anything – can't

find it in my keepsakes, photos, bibelots – or even

in recordings of Herr Bach: artifacts – presuming

 

there is life in blunt collection of them! – block.

Imagination won't be leashed for long to what has

passed. What animates? What lasts? What tastes

like miracle, but can't be analyzed or graphed?

Did someone tell a joke? Feels like we should laugh.

 

 

April 15, 2007

 

Nor’easter Tea Party

 

Perhaps this is the planet’s tea

(which isn't meant for you or me) –

concocted quite resourcefully –

 

condensed from her own atmosphere

to rain in torrents that – so near

to stirring up her loamy sphere –

 

create the perfect foamy brew

(such as the Nile, and Yangtze too)

that she requires to sip: it’s true

 

it does what rivers do: it floods

and offers sustenance to buds

and (mixed with soap) produces suds

 

and otherwise soaks up the place:

but while Nor’easter storms displace

us, is the planet saying Grace? –

 

inhaling clouds like we'd eat scones

before she gently burps and drones

in what we hear as wind? – then moans,

 

soft, as she spins until she sleeps?

Or am I wrong about what steeps?

Perhaps all this is how she weeps.

 

 

April 14, 2007

 

Sex, Etc.

 

Priorities? Okay: sex tops the list, but I've become

efficient at dispatching it – erotically I come, and go –

the outcome, methodology? You needn't know. But after

this: oh my. The things that catch my eye! I'm walking by

a street fair and espy two glass-and-wood-framed

butterflies: the first, a flaming silver, like a hologram:

electric dream – metallic mystery – an existential clue;

 

the next, a shameless brilliant cobalt – paradigm for cliché

rhyme: true blue. I'm told I shouldn't hang them facing

sun: I'm not surprised: they'd humble Helios: a glance at

them, no longer could he claim that he was Number One.

(His jealous wrath would stun.) Bought and wrapped in

paper-plastic-dark, I park them underneath my arm,

and seek another source of charm – a certain brand of

 

New York supermarket pickle called Ba-tampte – not

the garlic dill, but half-sour green – phallic things in subtly

spicy brine that sings – which surely to the Pickle Gods

defines divine. But now my day is full – too full – of adjective

and rhyme. So after I shore up my pickles, bundled

butterflies and sexual completedness – decide there’s

nowhere else to roam – I walk (oh, happily) back home.

 

 

April 13, 2007

 

This Siesta’s no Fiesta

 

Perhaps if I'd grown up in Greece or Spain,

I might more readily have learned to drop

the reins and lie down in the light and nap.

But day is full of silent scream: I can't imbibe

it like a cat laps cream – as catalyst for

dreaming through an afternoon: too soon to

doze while shapes can still be fully seen: it

scrapes my moral compass: feels obscene.

 

But, still, I tried just now – sank into pillows –

drank the air as if it were a potion – pressed –

transgressed – to dive into unconscious

ocean: what began to billow on my inner

screen was harrowing: humming sounds of

my apartment’s breathing – plumbing, pigeons

and electrical appliances all softly seething –

narrowed to a focused buzz – compressed

 

into a single creature’s keening – soundtrack

for the central gauzy fuzz of one enormous

grim and squirming eely monster hissing

through the dust beneath my bed, waiting

for me to drift off – so it could rise, exhale

a choking mist, envelop, twine itself around

my neck and waist and wrists and finish

the benumbing of my head. I got up instead.

 

 

April 12, 2007

 

Unreasonable Rhyme

 

Sometimes he takes unconscionable time

to lumber up and out – then sits there

pouting like a fat, spoiled, squeaky child,

accusing you of everything you were

and are and will be, mild to wild. Sometimes

he sneaks through the predawn to spawn:

eyes flicker – wake to find cascading pearl-

 

eggs flooding slickly over all established

rituals – rain-drops blur a close-cropped

lawn – kerplop and shoot – chaotic surge –

defy attempts to gratify your fleeting urge

to clean things up. Sometimes he scuttles

keenly in on wings: soft flying pup: a glisten

in his golden eyes – affection in his blinks –

 

to amplify your sighs: or thinks – you don't

know why (don't sit there like a lump!)

the thing he ought to be’s avuncular:

dispense advice that will suffice – precise,

concise. (Be nice.) You never know what

he will do or say from day to day; you only

know he won't come back, won't go away.

 

 

April 11, 2007

 

Full-Time Job

 

I’ve only time to blink –

I’ve spent the day

immersed in my proclivities –

I can’t enumerate them all –

but let’s just say they range

from drinking pickle brine

to playing Latin music

on the violin (first time!) –

 

while clad in underwear –

and looking, surely, less

sublime than in my fervid

mind I think I do.

I look at pictures, too,

but let’s just also say

they probably are not for you.

Oh, and there’s the babbling:

 

no infant has it over me.

Collaborating with the vacancy

of my Unconscious takes

enormous energy: hard

to keep my little self in clover –

make the apparatus of it throb.

I do, but it’s a full-time job.

 

 

April 10, 2007

 

Inability to Imagine an End

 

Hone the blade fastidiously, microscopically,

molecularly sharp: shave your recollection

of her ‘til the skin of it is a translucent pink above

 

a calligraphic tracery of capillaries, faint blue veins,

around and through and underneath which you

can just make out the brinks of deeper planes – 

 

soaked in darker seepages – hints of meanings:

soft chiaroscuro – whiffs of shadow that lend pink

the slightest tint of violet and pearl – and some

 

insinuation of a darker whirl and strain you might

spend poems someday trying very hard to name.

Trace this with a breath of fingertip and then

 

imagine all of it incinerated fast and blasting hot

to ash. Her life – look at her penciled signature! –

that cache of subtle breathing delicacies: flashes –

 

 

April 9, 2007

 

Andante Con Moto, for Diana and Dane

 

Let’s just say there is a volupté which, after you have felt it,

will not go away. I confess: I almost had preliminary sex the day

before I left to go to spend this Easter weekend in Vermont

with friends, a cellist and pianist who, with me on violin, once,

over thirty years ago, in our regaling twenties, found the plentiful

exquisite joys of public sin: performing everything without

that we’d withheld within: conditions for the dark and glorious

 

experience of which we happened on – applying hands and backs

and hips and arms to playing Brahms. We scratched an itch

back then as if it didn’t matter that it spread the flesh with soul

as profligately as foie gras on a hot dog roll: gleeful bare array –

audacious fresh display of us – infused with, fused to music.

The sex I might have had the day before resuscitation of all this

would have been serendipitous: a dream embarked upon from

 

the imaginary dark: a fluid essence blooming from the root,

a John the Baptist heralding his Christ – very like a preparation

for the resurrection of the blessing in the vice my instrumentalists

and I would soon devise: a testament to the biology of Art, a glory

in the grinding of our parts bent on an ecstasy we surely hadn’t

any right to take so much of – now or then: but did, and do,

and always will again. Sex and music are fraternal twins: at best,

 

they wrestle blessings from our sins. The second movement

of Brahms’ trio in C major plagiarized our private passions – all

desires, for a moment, realized. Every intimacy I have ever had

became the love we made: back then, and yesterday: dark

sighs – a bleating beat. Thirty-four years since the last time,

my two cherished renegades and I unleashed our instruments

to Brahms and found the rabid rampant necessary heat.

 

 

April 6, 2007

 

Bums on Benches

 

Reprehensible amenities, these memories! –

aids to the resuscitation of a strange dark pain:

not plain, its source, although the product

startles in its sharp-edged clarity and twisted

course – the chalice has been emptied of what

once so very long ago intoxicated: balance? –

 

an absurd hypothesis: and all comparisons are hell.

Here’s what’s staring at me from the bottom

of Remembrance’ empty well: I gave my soul

to certain men – the first one in a tent, late May,

Vermont, his sulky muscularity, all pink, Green-

Mountain-cool, in 1972, his anguish like some

 

cutting tool that bored me full of holes: the next,

in 1999, a vacant actor sleekly darkly climbing up

and through my heart like a liana vine, regaled me

with his toxic wine. Each led to dying. Light and dark,

they now come back and rest themselves inside

my chest like bums on benches in a city park.

 

 

April 5, 2007

 

All My Little Hairs

 

First of all, it's April and it's snowing – maybe

Winter had another thing to say. (Who doesn't?)

What I wasn't doing just now was inspecting

my new haircut in a mirror like some anxious

Norma Shearer. (Unconscionable sucker for

an easy rhyme!) This time I'm more inclined to

think about my Russian barber wielding shears

 

not only on my head and eyebrows but my ears.

His having not attended to my nose was, I suppose,

an act of politesse. He may not have desired

to imply that I was quite that much a mess.

(I guess.) But what this prods me to address,

adhering to my assonances like a chimpanzee

to monkey bars, is how far to allow this apelike

 

entropy to be my comfortable destiny. So much

trouble cleaning up the monkey! (How funky do

I want to be?) Primates playing: queer and cute:

happily hirsute. Doesn't sound so bad. Maybe

it would not be mad to let the whole thing go

and keep on going. Hmm: it just stopped snowing.

But all my little hairs have not stopped growing.

 

 

April 4, 2007

 

My Movie

 

In this inexorable roll of rainy day

the world is ratcheted onto a spool: each

pooling glimmer of a spattered pane

becomes a single shot in series of gradated

film noir planes: frames of someone’s

cunning cinematography. A biography

of me, if we advanced the prospect

of one now, would be a blast of pows!

 

MTV ejaculations followed by slow fades

interring every moment and effect directly

after its divestiture: the coda – shots of

strangers in a rainy street passing à la

Jean Renoir – the soundtrack a pastiche

of bits of Requiem from Mozart and Fauré:

recalling some dark private day you

only just remember having seen and felt –

 

sometime a simulacrum of an hour ago

on this conveyor belt, this strand of

secret, muted glories. Today I tell myself

a string of stories to compress amorphous

density to sense – meaning gleaned

through application of prehensile mental

conjuring pretense. Nothing’s true until

my movie fabricates for it a point-of-view.

 

 

April 3, 2007

 

Pause

 

“Absolutely staggering!”

This gave one pause.

 

Either nothing was that,

or everything was.

 

 

April 2, 2007

 

Eye Candy

 

It’s not just their obliterating charm:

your charm disarms as well.

You flirt reflexively: your life is one

metastasizing come-on; staving off,

and just a breath away from,

an unfathomable hell. The moment

mothers drop their babies into cribs

the babies wrap themselves in fibs –

 

manipulations and reprisals, smiles

and cries and coos and sighs

designed to pry and ferret out

an intimate attention – sufficiently

to dazzle so the love won't go away.

Today you're flippant with your men:

you beckon now to him, and then to him,

and afterwards to someone else:

 

you've got a dozen tricks up sleeves

and waiting on the shelf. Almighty

glorifying self! The sublimation of

a thousand yearnings – every single

one of which you think must burn

to this: a vacant face, unyielding lips:

rebuttal to a kiss: a charmless blink

from the abyss. Distractions rule:

 

choose wisely what will fool: insure

that it’s hormonally alluring: a sexual

and muscular seductive feast: arrays

of timbres, hues and melodies to tease

and please: a high and randy modus

operandi. To see, have, be eye candy –

whose hold on you will not release.

Damned wonders never cease.

 

 

April 1, 2007

 

Your Eyes Today

 

I do not seek to break the code:

I'd rather (literally) understand – find

the place to dwell beneath the web

of the expansion of what you're

 

concealing in your hand – affording

me an inside upward view: to peer

at arches from a pew in your cathedral

soul. I'm not particularly drawn to

 

revelations of the “whole” – nor care

too much what might be “true.” I'd

rather eat your meaning like a stew:

a savory sensation. Your eyes today

 

were full of the complicity of spies:

plotting your incipient vacation. Answer

every question with “Whatever.”

Put this sign out: “I'll be gone forever.”

 

 

March 31, 2007

 

Dithyramb* for Springtime

 

Pithy mambo! Cuban conga bongo

conversation with the Gods – scuba

into verbs and dithyrambic perturbations

 

of the kind that make vocabulary

wind into exasperating rabid suggestivity:

just the gist, please (add an upright

 

bass, piano, claves, saxophone, and

trumpet and trombone); scrap the list.

Today make way. Today wake May.

 

 

 

*a usually short poem in an inspired wild irregular strain

 

http://poetry.about.com/library/weekly/blkettelhackspring.htm

==============

 

The Ambiguity of Guy

 

I don't know why

I’m called Guy.

I'm not named after anyone:

I asked my mother

if it had a referent:

she could think of none.

 

I sometimes wonder

that she picked a name

so baldly plain – generic:

a stand-in for the Everyman –

indistinguishably male –

lexically quite pale.

 

And yet a touch outré

not quite American –

perhaps a bland soufflé

into which I might

fold a filling of my own –

a canvas waiting for a brush –

 

a dare to mold some

form from the Amorphous?

No further clue from

mom, who bade her last

goodbye. I'm left to spice

and stir the ambiguity of Guy.

 

 

March 30, 2007

 

Sausage

 

Sailing and settling: confetti and dust,

the day won’t say what it was. I wait for

its cue. But all I can think of to do is to cook

the chicken parsley parmesan sausage

I got at the supermarket this morning –

bought after meeting a friend at whom

passionately I declaimed about friendship’s

 

beginnings and ends: not long before

fleeing to NYU Dental to deal with

a sudden demise in my mouth – whence,

boarding a train heading south, I escorted

a man to his wedding downtown – bound

for a bond forged in City Hall – taking

his place in a throng of processions –

 

headlong into squall (the legions of flowers

and glowers and clerks!): thence through

to the Gothic Victorian works of the Brooklyn

Bridge in incipient Spring to watch digital

camera shots shot of his marital fling.

What now, in a poem, to sing? Too much

in the swarm. Sausage might bring form.

 

 

March 29, 2007

 

What I Miss

 

I don't miss the man:

I miss what it felt like

the moment he left

 

on a Monday: sharp

tang in his T-shirt of sweat –

faint vibrations of voice

 

in the air. I miss what

was taken just seconds

ago from its having been

 

palpably there – bright

instant of aftermath: laughter –

the gasp – the sweet sigh:

 

the bright flash – just gone by –

of the glint of the spit

on his lips on my retina:

 

etched there in newness

all smitten and wet. I miss

what I nearly forget.

 

 

March 28, 2007

 

March 27, 1989

 

Though all of weather yesterday

said early June, or middle May,

I only thought of snow.

Warm air distressed – got in the way:

in climates I'd imagined, gray

would have been apropos.

 

The aqua sky was something I

refused to harbor or to buy –

the sun: unwelcome too.

The summer breezes felt awry –

their warm degrees did not supply

a plausible purview.

 

Why do I think of snow? Those fine

few clouds had none: and yet define

the brutal chill of death.

L. A., that day, in ‘89 –

my brother – spent, inert, supine –

exhaled his final breath.

 

 

March 27, 2007

 

Principles of Shade and Light

 

Light falls, they say: defines

the form. You take the thing

on faith – to face its source

 

would cauterize the eyes.

Deducing truth requires

the deployment of a subtle

 

brace of lies – synaptic

sleights-of-hand: cascades

of internecine spies conducing

 

to enigma. Rigmaroles of

modulated dyes – pale blues

and grays and browns – imply

 

the sighs and cinematic fades –

seductive shades, gradations –

of a fine deception: Da Vinci’s

 

varnished skin suggests

manipulation might preside,

as well, within. Must trick

 

the sight. Can't look into the sun,

can't bear the unlit night.

Principles of shade and light.

 

 

March 26, 2007

 

Soft Tissues & Their Issues

 

Invited by a virus,

a bacterial infection

 

made my lymph nodes

swell to rampant masses

 

threatening defection –

full of angry narcissism

 

(Me! Me! Me!)

hysterical histology!

 

Soft tissues

and their issues.

 

Evidently they –

and therefore I – exist.

 

At least that’s what

the rumor is.

 

 

March 25, 2007

 

While Barenboim Plays Beethoven

 

To build a toy and make it serve as the fulfillment

of a wreath of dreams you didn’t know you had

until you'd built the toy: in the behemoth of the Joy

that rules Creation and Desire is this requirement:

 

to prompt an itch that you can scratch. (The cigarette

implies the match.) I tick away while Barenboim

plays Beethoven – my fingers diddle on a keyboard

doodling their possibilities; Barenboim’s proliferate

 

exquisite effabilities. I seek his model of apotheosis:

swing the whole from parts that never know what

whole they'll be and yet proceed with certainty they'll

coalesce. I ride on his sublimely educated guess.

 

 

March 24, 2007

 

Since You Asked

 

Thinking’s more like cake than dates:

layered – full of cream and crumb – wrestling

with the rumbling echoes of a wooden

spoon colliding with the sides of metal pans,

ceramic dishes: full of history and wishes –

quaking to the rhythm of a mighty swishing

whisk through egg and butter, flour and sugar –

 

poignant with the sly invective of vanilla –

burdened with the brutal transmutation of

an oven’s heat. Dates are indistinctly sweet –

flesh that shreds around a pit. Cakes respond

to feeling and have wit: rising to collaboration

with the air that dates would never dare.

Get a plate, pass up the dates. Wait for cake.

 

 

March 23, 2007

 

Honoring the Implement

 

I remember watching my old-fashioned father slowly

lather up a brush swashed in a soap cake in a mug

and then assiduously spend an hour – scour and scrub –

pull an ancient safety razor over and around, across, below,

above and otherwise meticulously through the frosted

stubbled landscape of his cheeks and jaw and chin.

 

I never wanted to be like him.

 

So I'd spend minutes in the bathroom: run the tap

to tepid, wet the kind of plastic cheap disposable slim

blade you buy in drug-stores – cut right to the chase:

scrape my unadulterated skin, and leave the place.

 

But oh, the razors I would have to throw away!

They rarely lasted longer than a day.

 

So I succumbed half-way: I started using shaving

cream. I was amazed. Each shaver lasted seven to

eleven days! And now I think I understand: to honor, laud,

applaud the implement – to savor the inanimate – the thing

that was my dear dad’s, and possibly now my, crusade.

 

Less to save the face than to embrace the blade.

 

 

March 22, 2007

 

Neptune’s Distant Nephew

 

Haul him slick and dark and dripping

from the bay – watch him wriggle,

writhe and dry in the aridity of day:

splayed – displayed – all tangled,

naked in his tentacled tumescence:

 

swollen with the ocean’s blood:

a terrible array of deep-sea midnight

blue – this vile compound denizen –

half octopus, half concupiscent

adolescent: Neptune’s distant nephew:

 

all his mess of inner landscape now

evaporating into funk and grimness,

sand and salt. Try to tell yourself that

his nefarious shenanigans – his rife

unthinkabilities – are not your fault.

 

 

March 21, 2007

 

Act 3, Scene 1

 

I used to write admonitory prose –

ignited by a mission to expose

all wrecks caused by impediment –

how strange it seems I thought

I could. Perhaps I gained a voice –

but now I harbor no illusions it

 

equated with a plan to foster

reasonable choice. Voices sing (at best);

something less volitional must pass

the test. I stumbled onto Auden,

Dickinson – and suddenly it seemed

to me they might give followable

 

ways to run: something to be won.

A discipline employed no less

assiduously than in algebra – but aimed

toward cultivation of a sound so

idiosyncratically various, it might at last

lead to some open, verdant answer

 

of a plain: I'd be desert; they'd be rain.

But each (so far) remains a distant

star: oh, reason to rejoice! But

ultimately species of yet other voices:

nothing to be done with them but listen.

It probably is prudent to remain

 

a student, but I am left to work out

terms of a quite unforgiving contract.

I am onstage already for what

surely is the final act. One finds

one makes some interesting

decisions on the basis of that fact.

 

 

March 20, 2007

 

Miss the Boat?

 

Miss the boat?

You’ve got the pier.

Here’s still here.

Haven’t a thing to say

today. But here you are

reading me anyway.

When I was sick

when I was little

my mother would stick

 

green peas into a pile

of buttered noodles

for my lunch: she surely

wanted to appease

her guilt at giving so

much unimpeded starch

to me: I’d pleaded

for an endless cloud

of salty buttered

 

white. Tonight my

lymph nodes swell

like sails: no missed

boats here – late winter

light: cold on the pier.

Hadn’t a thing to

say today. But here

you are reading

me anyway.

 

 

March 19, 2007

 

Nobody Need Know

 

Today I'll stay offstage –

colonize the barest margin

of the page – breathe without

 

a mission past the autonomic:

wield a solitary enterprise –

unavailing any other pair

 

of eyes: fade into translucent

skies. Nothing clearer than

a disappearance: crowds

 

would cloud. (I wonder why

I ever speak aloud.) Today

I'll let the quiet reign: play as if

 

my mind were random sand

and everything were “and.”

Lovely ebbing of a cold:

 

gentle webbing gravities

that sway you to and fro.

And nobody need know.

 

 

March 18, 2007

 

Continually Back to Bed

 

Doling out another dab of sleep –

like morphine-doctored jam on bread –

my mind consorts again insidiously

with itself – stalks its dark compartments

for a fissure: takes another forty-minute

dive into the vent to importune whatever

heart inside my head pumps dreams,

to dabble therein – to deploy (tonight)

a maquillage of creams and tints

 

and glosses: female faces out of Jean

Cocteau bloom – hang – like starry

Spanish mosses: if, as Freud suggested,

phantasies are wishes, mine are bound,

apparently, to subtle losses: eyes

and lips fade into crumbs and chips –

that swell to loaves and fishes: something

out of nothing fills the hungry with a feast.

Presumably I'm hungry (at the very least) –

 

for bread and jam and make-up and

sardines: amazing, scenes my yeasty

brain in its unchecked delirium will make:

quaking with the measure of my deepest

inner laws. Enough to give one pause –

enough to dole out one more dab of sleep

like drug-laced jam on bread to find out

more, and more, and more, about what

makes me go continually back to bed.

 

 

March 17, 2007

 

Fleur-de-lys Calligraphy

 

Vigilance wants soft receptive ease: eyes

wide open, warm limbs loose – ready

to enhance the unforeseen: proto-opportunities

 

float in: insentient fluff – to others, ‘stuff’ –

to you (with luck): faint hints of meaning –

leaning toward polarities whose magnetisms

 

you'd not guessed until they pressed their

plumb-lines through you absently and

thoroughly as breath: all the world is new –

 

but wouldn't be if you had tried to shove it

on your foot like Cinderella’s shoe. A virus

scribbles fleur-de-lys calligraphy inside your

 

head. Nothing to be said. Focus in a drift:

too much to sift? Can't squeeze the vague into

the bold? Wait, awake. Lessons of a cold.

 

 

March 16, 2007

 

Some Angel Made of Sound

 

Oh – let the lungs exhale an anguished wail – and help

the ululation to awaken soul –

to channel rage and sorrow: laugh – and whisper – yelp

to herald full release – a blast – to sing a whole

 

cantata – commandeer some golden grand gestalt

deploying something like a salve for grief –

an aria of everything – beyond all fault –

to act as a premonitory thief

 

of unendurable despair: to stop the game:

some angel made of sound to steal the loss –

and through some heartful human agency proclaim

ascendancy – to give the Void a gloss

 

of hope again. One rhymes to lend a numbing lilt:

a friend’s been in a coma for too long –

decision: drain his waning life – and, having spilt

it – pray that you've transcended right and wrong.

 

 

March 15, 2007

 

Pale Fish

 

Caught a cold? Then photo-shop

reality: crank the contrast so

the background’s seal-fur black

and flesh-tones turn to day-glo

orange, pink and white – and

shadows flow like auburn ink that

melts into the light as if a brush

 

had wanted to ignite the air – to

dare to turn it into Maxfield Parrish

glare. Now you're painting! –

let a fainting nymph ensnare

the honeyed sun and drip it into

purple-blossomed waters of

a secret emerald pond wherein

 

a glowing goldfish rises to surprise

her heavy-lidded eye. Frame

and crop the fish’s face into a perfect

square, re-size it to dimensions

of a smallish slice of pear and pale

the contrast ‘til it fades to rosy

pearly tan: send it in an email

 

to some random man. He'll think

it’s spam and pitch it to the cyber-

void. And you – well, you will have

enjoyed the grace of spending time

manipulating brightness. Surely

there’s no greater rightness. (Put

on a sweater. You'll feel better.)

 

 

March 14, 2007

 

If I Could Cut the Crap

 

Why the tug? – not exactly by Oblivion perhaps,

but something in the slow lane wherein caravans

of lazy rhinos can relax: with fat young businessmen

and bins of troglodytes and tightly muscled wrestlers

on their backs: all day, each day, for days on end –

my waking mind keeps pulling me to bend – to lend

a hand to nothing much, to blow up, touch and burst

 

a bubble, flub a line, opine repletely on the asinine

and trip on slimy guava peel: to see the everyday

in the surreal: woops! – did the thing already – let

a little passing rhyme begrime – and spittle up

the converse of intention: but don't bother figuring

it out: a ziggurat of mud-bricked obverse possibilities

will obfuscate each bit before you've had a chance

 

to scout for – wait! Punch & Judy (hard left hook,

and Garland), Bewth and Trudy (and their best friends

Bewty, Trooth) proclaim that Sheets and Kelly had

a point! – though God knows what it was, and

evidently He’s not telling. Meanwhile I'm a hog in fog:

and here’s what I'd be selling to myself if I could

cut the crap: a nap. Daylight savings flipped my cap.

 

 

March 13, 2007

 

Greek, to Me

 

Beauty harrowing enough to start a war –

ultimatum from a god which sends you

reeling into murdering your child – bloodshed

as the consequence of love and hate

felt so entirely – and wildly – the personal

becomes the epic and the grand. Here’s

what I don't understand: why mad exigencies

 

of the Greeks can make me burn and weep

and why I can't discern one analogue to them

in me. Surely if I care as much as that –

if Agamemnon, Clytemnestra and Achilles

pining over sacrificing life and love –

wrestling with vindictive whims of fickle gods

and goddesses – can make me feel so

 

terribly exposed and known: surely I must

have experienced Iphigenia’s of my own?

Too pat to say I have: that metaphor can

slide one into moving simulacra of the truth.

Not good enough. Correlatives I've got are

full of human static. No one tale in me

accomplishes a jot of pay-off from the tragic

 

and dramatic. And still these stories strike

my blood as real – illuminate the sources

of whatever makes me feel. Violence

of union and disunion: basic workings of

a cell writ large? – perhaps in some way

this is how the moments of a life discharge –

go on – but in such subtle levities and

 

dips and brevities we cannot, in ourselves,

detect their breaths, deaths, night and

dawn. Somewhere in me – everywhere

in these Greek peeks and peaks – are

an apotheosis and reprieve: a key to what it

takes, with all one’s achingly deluded heart,

to muster up the bald temerity to care: believe.

 

 

March 12, 2007

 

Query at the Center

 

Voluptuous and muscular – grinding

and extreme: involuntary – throes

of a deliverance like giving birth – but

closer to the geological: the motive

 

of amoral Earth: a well of golden lava

shoots and seeps and curdles all it

touches into hell – a kind of heaven,

too: how very like the amorality of you!

 

How do you persist? I am nothing but

meandering and witless gleam and mist:

the fleet detritus of a mindless blast.

You – obliterating thing: you last.

 

 

March 11, 2007

 

Home Shopping Channel

 

Available to everybody, glittering affordably –

beryl, agate, garnet or chalcedony – inimitably –

out of a profuse variety of glinting tints –

comprising a hegemony of light – a singularity:

one cool gray-red-blue ray – a sight to which

a way is found, a world is drawn, transmuted

 

into sense: a distillation from the dense: chaos

cheese-clothed to autonomy: the crystal creature

stirs, says “I” – and thereby knows something

it otherwise could not. Is this what an identity

is meant to be: a causal semi-precious state of

being?: self-impelled to spot not this but that?:

 

and knit it into the illusion of a seamless weave

of seeing?: make distinctions – cold and hot,

good and bad, lean and fat? The craving for

a synchronicity – the indefatigable urge to make

up, then connect, “the dots” – a win-win gamble

at the slots: a blasting and amorphous glare

 

becomes the stuff of what and when and how

and where. A random and exploding spray of

terror, glory – turns into a story. Cacophony

becomes what you and I may opt to recognize

as the vibrato of a jeweled voice. Harrowingly

advertised: perception is a shopping choice.

 

 

March 10, 2007

 

Power

 

Plum-black skin, and bitter-chocolate eyes, a zap

of shocking-white-wired beard: sixty-six, you'd guess:

he presses into weekend tourists on the subway –

 

pushes through until he’s commandeered a seat:

you wonder if the first thing that you smell is feet:

a mammal redolence arises which confounds the nose:

 

this ain’t no rose. As he sits growling at the crowd

au jus, a little Midwest girl of two gets on the other side

of her pastel-blue-suited mom from him, says pew!

 

and this time, anyway, you know she isn't talking

about you. By now the mob has parted ‘round him

like a herd of frightened sheep: and with a look

 

of disregard that’s almost suave, he has the cheek

to slip a cigarette out from a filthy jacket pocket,

press it to his spit-slick lips and light it with a Bic.

 

“We have allergies!” “Don't smoke!” “Against the law!”

you hear the mewling, tentative and cringing crowd

implore: they don't deserve this smelly boor, this

 

blatant not-to-say-illegal violation of their rights – this

insult to their sight: they've paid their fare… The ebon

man looks absently around, announces: “I don't care.”

 

 

March 9, 2007

 

Zorba the Greek, Maybe

 

Memory’s the great dissembler –

I can't trust a thing it says.

Just a while ago I watched the end

of Zorba – wherein Mr. Quinn lights up

at Mr. Bates’s acquiescence –

and suggestion that they dance –

and then they do. At least I think

 

that’s when the light came on –

when something like a jolt came

through: like watching an excruciating

and intolerably private dawn –

lovemaking, too. But maybe I just

made the whole thing up. I guess

that’s always true: I take – appropriate –

 

some spirit in the eyes, suppress it

and invest it and digest it until

something in me desperately cries.

Which, God knows, something in me

just now did. “God knows.” What

does that mean? Broad blows

of an imagined wind – or some sense

 

actually felt within? Sometimes

I think I co-create a destiny: respond

to some astonishingly apposite

divine intention – as if Zorba

had invited me to dance – some

irresistible and irrepressibly incorrigible

outside lure. But I'm not sure.

 

 

March 8, 2007

 

Oratio ante colligationem*

Something perfect, please.

(I’m on my knees.)

 

Don’t be crude.

But make it dazzle, dude.

 

Something I’ll remember.

God knows I’ve known dismembered

 

long enough.

Show me all your stuff.

 

Don’t be daunted.

Flaunt it.

 

 

+

 

 

*Prayer Before Connecting to the Internet

 

 

March 7, 2007

 

Big Apple Assets

 

Subtly sensing space, human bodies

slide intuitively seat to seat in subways

in Manhattan to ensure they don't

collide – touch of sexy Michael Jackson

moonwalk glide: as if each ass were

shifting side to side to unheard sweet

 

soft beats of jazz, each riff of which

suspends the riding flesh before it lets

it pass – panache, with semi-quaver rests –

sufficient pauses to divest Big Apple

rears of any proximate impediment,

distress – to do what they do best:

 

gracefully maneuver into adequately

spacious nests. Every urban culture

has its rush hour tests – ought's and

must's regarding navigation of the butt.

But somehow New York City rumps

can sit – and, while they're sitting, strut.

 

 

March 6, 2007

 

Conundrum

 

When did conundrums

cease to be hum-drum

and seem like something

 

to engage? I can't recall

the page. Presiding over

their conversion, though,

 

I do remember, one by one,

I watched them go. Where

they went I do not know.

 

 

March 5, 2007

 

Ides, Prefigured

 

I'd like to slice this bit

of happiness – and spread it

on a roll – but every time

I take a swipe at it – it curls

into a tiny ball – careens

and bounces ‘round the room:

 

darkness supersedes the glow,

stop replaces go. Not only

am I left without a bite –

but find all promise dissipates

into a gloom – I have to mope

about for light. Can't capture

 

rapture in a sandwich. I span

my hands which fence

the window from my face –

then through the slats of fingers

start to trace a cloudy soft

dispersal of snowflakes outside

 

the glass – as if the halo of some

past contentment had returned

to laugh at my attempts

to keep it like a pet – to make it

last. Densities beget a shaft,

a ray: precipitation in the spray

 

and hum of sun – oxymoron

weather – Spring abuts a Winter –

stiff and flippant as a feather –

fluff, and starch: a thirst – just

out of reach of water – parched.

Ides, prefigured: March.

 

 

March 4, 2007

 

The Cheetos Cure

 

Swoon at your desk – dream up arabesques –

give mindless agendas your time –

Go for the yammer – burlesque – the grotesque –

spare no word an obvious rhyme –

 

Don't seek to impress – or crave recompense –

let glitter be why you choose

this word or that word: incense over sense –

let nothing be your loud news.

 

There'll probably be a time policy

will once again make you heel –

and root out ostensible fallacy

and favor the provably real –

 

But drop all that crap – dive into a fray –

and act like six bungling fools:

do dada – eat bagfuls of Cheetos all day –

and screw all the goddamned rules.

 

 

March 3, 2007

 

Where It Stops, Nobody Knows

 

My recollection is they terrified: that herd of rococo

broncos – all vertically impaled – bright metal

poles through each of their bedecked and lurid

guts: the paint too thick, slick colors too implausibly

like birthday cake to trust; inane repetitive mechanic

music like a jolly funeral – sucked through infirmities

of horror movie creaking chains and jangling gear:

 

the thing kept circling round and up like fear: and

anytime you thought you might be getting near

some final destination like a hot-dog stand or that

broad hand of your big hairy daddy waving at you

in a sham of glee (no savior he) – you'd just be spun

away again: stuck in a woozy spin: the sole behavior

granted by this noisy little bit of hell: this carousel.

 

How many things like that, since then, have made

you feel unwell? The answer stuns: not one. Woozy

spins? You've sought a few. Acquired taste for

vertigo – like caviar or escargot? Defense? Pretense?

(Hate placated, rage assuaged?) You think of what

you like to do in bed, turn red. Soft sighs. Does

everyone – or only you – eroticize what terrifies?

 

 

March 2, 2007

 

Star-man

 

I write to you in every expectation

that you'll know just who you are:

an absolutely glorious configuration

of the fallen blasted dust of star.

 

Perhaps you're tall, and brown-

eyed and would fit exactly right

in bed. Perhaps you'd pet my newly

buzz-cut head and I would sigh

 

and then we'd kiss. Perhaps I'd

think “it’s never been like this.” Who

knows how any star-man meets and

greets. I'd better change my sheets.

 

 

March 1, 2007

 

For Rent

 

Lank poets, Broadway dancers, boxers in a gym –

a blooming horde of men invades my daydreamed day –

frank invitations to a fantasy – him, him

and him – blunt presences my soul would like to weigh

 

upon its scales to see if one of them aligns –

or has the requisite enigma – or the smell –

or any of the other sweet unconscious signs

the dark conniving me must register to swell

 

upon the idea of a winner – who’ll take space

inside my mind and groin and heart: odd prince who seems

exactly as he is – has all the heft and grace

of fully manifested man. For rent: these dreams.

 

 

February 28, 2007

 

Something Like the Lord of All

 

Harmony – red darkness in it – dissonant enough

to sizzle sex from breath like rendering the fat off

bacon in a skillet: teasing you with every aural spill

and spit and tint: fresh intimation – hint – of some

 

excruciating pleasure – prelude to an aria of flesh –

surrender to its nuanced measure – leisure – swarm

of moonlit moths all soft and thick and blundering

and warm around the tonic chord: quick gasp of air

 

halts all your wondering – heats up, abets the dare –

aids movement towards the center of the heart: you are

not smart enough to think one thing to start or stop

or alter it – so: falter at the brink, prepare yourself

 

to sink: nothing to be done but for a hot pink ear

to tell a groin a mind has joined to something like

the Lord of All – and honey, you're about to fall: you

haven't got a choice. Impact on you of that voice.

 

 

February 27, 2007

 

Sonnet for a Tuesday

 

I thought that I’d appropriate Tuesday

and deconstruct it, make it mine: take off

its armor and decide to leave the fray

<. class=MsoNormal style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt">Monday inflicts – whips up – too often: slough

 

the coarse and outer winter skin of it

to bare its tender soul: to let some dream

regenerate a subtle spin in it –

delicious state of being wherein gleam

 

soft openings: an overture of light –

reflecting and connecting near and far –

where everything you’ve lost is brought to sight –

and time and space resolve into a star –

 

and so I tried, and what I found was this:

Tuesday can make a Monday seem like bliss.

 

 

February 26, 2007

 

Remote Control

 

I crawl into my bed at eight and vacillate

between the spider web of television and

the warming grate of an oblivion: PBS entangles

 

me in perilous volcanic seeps and freezing

treks along the harrowing high backbone of

the Andes’ peaks – against which sleep insinuates

 

interiorly its seductive creep – befogging, tugging

me to turn the Andes off – as if to choose to leap

off mountainous terrain for good – surrendering

 

my breath to ancient autonomic order: opt

to sink, dive underwater. Oblivion will always win:

inevitably I devote myself to finding the remote

 

and with a gasp that feels like jumping off a cliff

I click it, watch the screen flash white, go black,

and I fall back to my primeval mind and bid

 

farewell to life as one can know it in the light.

I can't not think that something like this will

obtain at that penultimate adieu to day and night

 

yet to arrive: the next to last goodbye that sets

one up for ceasing all one’s striving to remain

alive – though not, perhaps, without a fleeting

 

backward glance at the unfinished piles, the webs

that still need knotting up, the half-drunk cup,

the floor – and more – still dirty. So far each

 

morning I've awakened at four-thirty to resume

my alpine climb – divine the new day’s ‘do’

from ‘don't’. One morning, I suppose, I won't.

 

 

February 25, 2007

 

From the Spout

 

Like socks and tee-shirts, under-shorts

and bed-sheets flapping on a clothesline –

first warm day of spring: some gusty

whoosh will surely sweeten, wring all

your habiliments and imperfections dry –

erase the stains and stink – loosen

and efface their messy evidence – or so,

sometimes, you'd like to dream, to think:

but this distress feels more like rags deployed

 

on pots and skillets in a sink – sopping,

sodden – far more permanently spotted

with some cousin of despair than you'd

thought care could bring: when will you learn

you can't eradicate a thing, but only add

and temper what you have with more?

Something wriggling and reclusive in you

is insatiable: it packs its secrecies with

everything you breathe and swallow, sneeze

 

and snore, hate, ignore, adore. If you've

a shot at purity, it will be squeezed from

heterogeneity: the product of a human stab

at proving one gets white from mixing every

dripping color in the rainbow: ripped from

every crevice and shenanigan of living:

part of what cannot stop giving what your

heart can't do without: the chance to keep

on guzzling eternity – right from the spout.

 

 

February 24, 2007

 

Cold Comfort in the Answer

 

A vine that tightens, thickens as you feel it

twine around your foot and ankle – climb

your leg and hip and trunk until it’s seized

the skin and sunk its tendrils in – rankles –

strangles – sharpens to the brief cruel cut

of teeth – to rip your heart – and wreathe you

 

in the grip of someone else’s seething brain.

What do you do about another human being’s

hot dark importuning pain? Some vein

of virulence insists its alien implacability:

below, above: there’s nothing you can mine

from love. You wonder just what love could be –

 

or what accounts for one of you persisting

towards a happiness, another bent on misery:

the thirst for a reprieve – the hunger for

a mess? What makes the worst or best in you,

in me? Cold comfort in the answer: chance,

again, you guess: and choice, and destiny.

 

 

February 23, 2007

 

Historiography

 

Habit! – inculcated years ago – remembered –

so far past its use: all its tight weave loosed

to dust – but still, in recollection, full of “should”

and “must”: I think – again, again – of how

I'd mush soft boiled egg into six shreds

 

of buttered toast: place two prunes on a plate,

along with seven grapes, and microwave a cup

of milk – spiked with a drop of coffee – faint

reminder of what other people drank at breakfast –

and what she had drunk once, back when

 

she was young and well: at three-past-seven –

as if some Authority had rung a bell – I'd make

my way up creaking stairs to leave the tray

on her bed-table: take away the basin into

which, with what constrained and harrowing

 

maneuvers I can only guess, she had been able

to deposit what she called a “gift.” Ultimately

gifts got flushed and trays got taken down

and dishes washed: and then, at last, my mother’s

body burned to ash. How strange to think

 

of all those turns, ascents, descents: the spent

detail of all this daily choreography – the source

of family historiography: a tale, related, that

survives: a tale that took up, for a moment –

endless in the living of it – all our lives.  

 

 

February 22, 2007

 

My Map

 

Oxymoron: fierce – serene – extreme –
sky’s cobalt blue and day-glo yellow-green
pierce – gleam – into imagination – proffering
a lens to magnify this New York City scene –
as seen internally – infernal licks of flame! –
I cannot walk outside and not both see and be
 
the hunter and the game: progenitor and predator
and prey. Let’s say you take a cruise with me
uptown from Soho, bearing onto an obliquely
leftward-leaning Bleecker Street – sail softly
through the halos – echoes – of its grumbling
and contentious Dutch and English centuries –
 
aboard our phantom Manahatta galleon –
Greenwich Village streams that then become –
remain – Italian: scent of bread – and stains
of some arcane effluvium – and blood: now ford
the flood into the western reaches of the city
Herman Melville knew, forgotten and in sorrow –
 
cobbled surfaces paved over beaches on which
ghosts of aborigines seek sustenance: now
breach the edge and avenue of river: on this
sliver of eternity I find my map: it’s here that
I will grapple with what seems to want to break
out from my heart: rebirth, and death, and art.

 

 

February 21, 2007

 

Capacity For Bliss

 

In all my clotted jungle growth –

my twisted roots – my seepages –

amorphous ambiguities of daily

sentience: all my fleeting, strange

attempts to forge comparisons,

equivalents – faint apprehensions,

scents transmuted into metaphor –

 

the mental sense I cook and pour

and strain and steam and cool

and recombine to serve each

vague velleity of mind – through

all my psyche’s services to its own

tenuous survival: you stand there –

free, alone, and clear – as if you

 

weren’t air. You manage to exist

inside my fading, flapping trappings

like a sourceless light which

nonetheless describes exactitude,

an architecture on which I rely.

Tenacity in you – in this –

carves my capacity for bliss.

 

 

February 20, 2007

 

The Secret of My Why

 

Today I shored up walls and squatted hard

and fast behind a fortress, daring anybody

to defy me. Galvanized behind my I, I thought

I'd found the secret of my why – and was

determined to protect myself and it from tinker,

tailor, soldier, spy. But then my secret made

a little cry. I looked for it and it was gone.

 

Darkness had replaced the dawn: I lacked

the least idea of what was going on. Until

I had another thought. I fought to keep it: it

vamoosed. I wondered if my whole shebang

of screws was loose. If after sorting through my

ancient wounds – deciding if a hurt entirely

proceeds from something I perceive my mommy

 

or my daddy did or didn't do – if when that buzz

has died the hurt is still alive – I sometimes

think that I've derived a clue about an aspect

possibly unalterably true – of what, when

I’m addressed, is meant by “you.” I guess this

is a find. But damned if it has ever told me

anything remotely interesting about the Mind.

 

 

February 19, 2007

 

Dead On

 

I have been hungry

to assay an essay in

quatrains: as if some

solace in the mere

 

meticulous assortment

of that kind of clearly

parsed iambic flow

would automatically

 

insure more than

a supererogatory snow

of commentary on the one

last singularly vexing

 

strain of questioning

I've not so far been

able to corral into

the barest field of

 

sense: but see what

happens? I get dense.

So: waste no more

time: ask it in rhyme.

 

Roses? Not blue.

Violets? Not red.

Won't somebody say

what it's like to be dead? 

 

 

February 18, 2007

 

Bring Your Purse

 

In the business of obtaining through illicit means

whatever will enhance complete suspension of

a disbelief, you sift through crowds like any grifter

for the easy mark: reality to you is an eternity

 

of Three-Card Monte: you're the shark, and every

flitting thing that comes your way’s the prey. Today

I lay down on my bed and tried to find a way to say

what might do justice to the efficacy of your cruelty:

 

you think you're too cool for me – but honey, if

I got you in a cell for less than half the moment

of a nanosecond, I would get you in a headlock

until you fomented some new Universe. Hell-bent

 

on your reformation, I would squeeze you ‘til I made

a blessing of your every curse – bring your purse,

I'd steal it – nose about and ferret out your last

explicability: and – You know – I'd reveal it.

 

 

February 17, 2007

 

The Blue Entirety

 

It would take an oceanographer of rare

ability to comprehend your sea: too many

 

currents seem to be at odd – alluring

and provocative – cross-purposes to me:

 

though by default they form a unity: that

you exist – persist – is proof you somehow

 

flow without a blip from stop to go. Oh, to

wallow in and ride your surf – follow all your

 

riptides – swallow you to your last drop –

hug and cover your dark sea-floor like a rug

 

of starfish – glide along the wishful fantasies

that spirit up like sharks to play among

 

your glints on top – expand into the every

last variety – the blue entirety – of you.

 

 

February 16, 2007

 

Cosmic Buzz

 

What appears to be the end

may be instead a bend

into another bright

dimensionality.

 

Continuity

beyond

a pop!

 

Then again,

it might

just stop.

 

I say: “You can hug me, honey,

but you ain’t getting’ any.”

 

Death says: “Okay.”

 

Sometimes it doesn’t

matter what you say.

 

Sometimes it does.

(Cosmic buzz.)

 

 

February 15, 2007

 

Morning Poem

 

When I seem to need to think of ‘sun’ as ‘star’ –

to recollect that it’s our prime progenitor –

has made us what we are – when I seem to

need to dream awake and contemplate

the wonder of my quarks – and otherwise

imagine I’m a constellated universe of quirk –

inimitable piece of work – is it because I think

 

I’ll blunder in the race ‘out here’? – that I don’t

have the stuff to chase the life that others

seem to relish and hold dear? Perhaps

I cover up in my poetics in the hope that I can

override the sentiment that I’m a dope for

yearning for the sorts of purpose one is taught

to want: but can’t kick into fantasies of having

 

any more. No roses will adorn a trellis to

my door of bliss with someone else: below,

above: no likelihood that I can see of that romantic

love. And yet, and yet. If I’m a fool it’s more

because I think I’ve lost a bet. The sun’s a star:

what other wager could there be? That’s probably

as much as I can say re: what’s in store for me.

 

 

February 14, 2007

 

February 14, 2007

 

What’s changed? Why is the air

so soft – so strange? What ranges

through the light – these puffs –

 

these tiny spiky fright-wigs! –

rigged and specked with glitter –

soaring horde of sprites entirely

 

too small to fall – too small

entirely to see. Some call it snow.

What lunacy! It took all day

 

remotely to recall what this date

is supposed to be: an invitation

to cupidity – expensive roses, guilt

 

and candy – arrows through

a heart. That’s no part of what’s

alive to me. Look around and see.

 

 

February 13, 2007

 

Their Holy House

 

I never knew their pain head-on, but must

have sensed it in the way I felt, inside

that house, each dawn: that I was not

where I was meant to be. And now I find

a photograph of their adored abode –

just sent to me – published in a book: its

 

caption cooked and loaded with what

they most dearly wished for – and to have

the world believe: evidence of circumspect

serenity and art up every shingled sleeve:

my mother as its sole maîtresse. I've

wondered all my sentient life what I might

 

learn to bless as much: the thing to which

I might bring my own passionate and

practiced touch – and why I felt the less

for my intransigence – and incapacity to see

and love as they saw, loved. Whose

hands were gloved – whose hands were

 

bare? Who longed for naked skin – who

didn't dare? I can't assess their dreams

more than to say they danced to different

themes than mine: they were a different kind.

They chose a spoon, I chose a fork.

They had their holy house. I have New York.

 

 

February 12, 2007

 

Ball of Light

 

Clear the day – lay

down fortune like a saucer

full of water for a lizard

in a drought: watch

 

the creature drink,

grow stout – and waddle

his fat satiation out.

Scoop the sunlight

 

from the bone-dry dish

and hold the fragile

blinding thing as if

it were a wish: the visual

 

equivalent of that

clear ping you get

from flicking rims of thin

blown glass. Let the ball

 

of light of your good

news surpass all

expectations. Allow

its vast invisibility

 

to occupy your space,

at last, as grace.

Everything belongs to me.

I own everything I see.

 

 

February 11, 2007

 

Four Themes

 

I have four themes that bleed

into each other through

the threadbare seams that

only just divide them: first –

that of the penis as a startled

parvenu in unaccustomed

realms – access to success

 

in which it hadn’t dared to

dream it ever would possess;

second – how the family

addicts itself to scripts in which

its idiosyncratic warriors

and angels must conscript,

by secret fiat, spies and allies

 

for, against each side; third –

my long, wide, deep Manhattan,

which enables and invades

my vision like a phantom;

fourth – the absolute insanity

of God – or, anyway, whatever

causes the phenomenon we

 

call Existence to induce us to

pursue our strange persistences

and curiosities. Four themes

that seep to plaid – of blood

and dirt and sky and fire:

endlessly collaborating

on my next implacable desire.

 

 

February 10, 2007

 

Excuse me, but

 

(for D.)

 

Excuse me, but

would you mind

if I died before you?

If you feel yourself

 

going would you let

me know so I can

go first? Don't pull

any pranks. Thanks.

 

 

February 9, 2007

 

Westbeth Said Yes

 

They subsidize the housing, not the art

(and God knows, after all, what art may be):

presumably that is the artist's part.

But don't sweat your originality –

 

forget the whole of what you thought you knew

or didn't: kiss the discards, hug the false –

give it a chance to prove itself as true:

who knows – you might, in free-fall, dance a waltz.

 

Even if you can't stand your condition –

despise some flaccid skin of metaphor –

let your instincts plot its circumcision:

(CHOP!) hit the road, Jack! – boot it out the door.

 

Wrestle lovely chaos: go – pursue it!

(When you're old, you'll have somewhere to do it.)

 

 

http://www.westbeth.org/

 

 

February 8, 2007

 

Alive Instead

 

If you ain’t screamin’,

you ain’t havin’ fun.

I seem to recall those

words from someone

not unlike myself on

winter days like these

too bright with sun to bear:

the blinds were drawn

 

and every circumstance

directed towards

the fiction that there

weren’t any consequences

to fixations – save the ones

we craved. Who was he,

this shenanigan of sex?

Context: one would

 

have to plan again a world

which isn’t any longer here

to find him: saturated

in a stronger fear of living

than I know right now:

inducing means to ends

that bend the mind circuitously

into promises like carrots

 

on a stick: quick fixes

that don’t fix. Sometimes

one feels nostalgia for

its tantalizing mix.

But now he’s gone,

as good as dead.

And here I am,

alive instead.

 

 

February 7, 2007

 

But Poems Sort of Do

 

What do you think about this? –

what do you think about that?

 

My mind contrives to answer –

scrambles for a fact – arrives

 

with static: sends alarms to all

its sentries, spies and minions –

 

none of whom call back: chaotically

collective and despondent Singularity

 

cries: I don’t have opinions!

And it’s true. Not one worth a sou.

 

 

February 6, 2007

 

A Mercy to Forget

 

You've swum into a realm you do not understand;

it’s somewhere far from land and yet not unfamiliar:

that vermillion calls up memories – of what? –

a uterus? – a London bus? – and look at you! –

you're breathing underwater just as if you were a fish:

some dream has spilled into your dish, perhaps,

or maybe it’s a momentary lapse of concentration:

 

during which eternity just gained the upper hand:

by clocks you've left you may not have been gone

for longer than a billionth of a second – maybe

that’s the explanation for this plenitude: you blink

and suddenly you're in a drink and being swallowed

by a mouth: welcome to a gut in which there is

no compass to direct you: save what you experience

 

as south: that is, a spiral down and down: the feeling

you are underneath and underground, but floating:

is this sea, or some fluidity you haven't met except

unconsciously?: again, it’s not unknown to you – yet

past your least capacity to name: are you happy,

or insane?: can you remember anything of what you

once had been? Strange shades evaporate: words

 

once had meaning but you've lost their spin: without,

within? What concepts once had they? Your nose

(you have a nose!) points upward suddenly: you're

droplets forced out through a hose: you scream

as you are sprayed back into some hard rocky world

where outlined incarnation seethes and grows. You

breathe and blank and shed regret. A mercy to forget.

 

 

February 5, 2007

 

Détente

 

Flicker – inexplicable – fleet specificity – odd quick

glimpse of silver – dart of gold – a brilliant flash

of lacquered black – now molders into matte –

like charcoal: lightens: grayish amber – morphs

to scent – his signature of scent – another autograph

of his peculiar scent – which now devolves into

the acrid crack and snap of burning log – whose

 

splinters creak and weaken – flake and cool –

a fireplace in front of which you hog a waning heat –

in hoped-for compensation: love’s leaked out

the bedroom window’s sash and sill: sharp winter

chill: the frozen sweat of recollection: debt and bill

the heart’s refused to notice or to pay: until the memory

of what occasioned it has vanished quite away:

 

what does your psyche want to say? You write these

lovelorn poems everyday – to whom? You seem

to sip a tiny portion every morning from the potion

of some coming or remembered or imagined mourning –

why? To all of which dark elegy the endless inner

river of your patent happiness completely puts the lie.

What more do you require? Perhaps fulfillment is desire.

 

 

February 4, 2007

 

This February Dawn

 

I get perhaps too much contentment

from the notion that I’ll die. When, from

my measure of them, circumstances

seem to go awry, I wonder why

my first mild comfort comes from

 

contemplating an inevitable death.

To calmly sanction severing capacity

for breath would seem the greatest insult

to a living being: giving, seeing – all of

the grand gifts of taking in and letting out

 

which sift through everybody’s bout

with this existence: all of our heroic fine

insistence that ‘to be’ is far superior

to its alternative: I get that, at the arguably

best of times, which aren’t always

 

when I know unqualified success:

sometimes one’s stress – relieved –

becomes occasion to believe that one

does after all delight in each reprieve.

But often – dare I say – I find my mind

 

meanders towards the thought that

one’s oblivion might be the better half

of an equation. The void seems like

a welcome bed, this February dawn: to

enter it would not take much persuasion.

 

 

February 3, 2007

 

The Power to Proceed

 

I see the outline of the form –

as if I could define, keep warm,

the momentary stasis – say,

of Marie Antoinette – Versailles

as she inclines to pet a favored

pup in time to the solution of

 

a Mozart minuet: a rhymed eternity:

no premonition that one day

an executioner will turn the key

and lead her to decapitated

dissolution. When preparing to

decide what mental knot to loosen

 

or to tie, I conjure up a universe

as changeless as an azure

desert sky – where sense

makes sense: and feelings will

not spill and bleed. Then I pretend

I have the power to proceed.

 

 

February 2, 2007

 

He Will Not Let You Be

 

Johannes Brahms went public

with an arcane art: a mystery

implodes within the ear and heart

of anyone who would divine

his thick intentions: play a part

in his First Symphony: be plagued

with full retention of the sway

and pull of his suspensions: let

C Minor virally invade and leave

 

you reeling – feeling smoothed,

abraded: rub of square-in-circle,

two-against-a-three: swell with

his humidity: smell his fragrant

squeeze of memory: you are

the Northern Germany of 1883.

When you were twenty-three you

ached like this, you think: all

serious and sad – and then delirious:

 

as glad as kings achieving much-

sought, fought-for peace, détente:

the thought you might be granted

life you wanted: hot and packed

as this sweet golden noble grand

chorale! But now: what’s this

locale? What shore and foreign sea?

Brahms sits, unavailing, in his

minor key. He will not let you be.

 

 

February 1, 2007

 

So Many Teeth

 

How strange to have so many teeth.

I didn’t have them until recently.

I never thought that I was here, entirely:

at least that’s why I speculate I violated

what I’ve since discovered is the law

of incarnated is-ness: if you’ve got

a body it’s your business. Who knew?

Apparently, most others do. But I devised

 

enormities of what I guess I must assess

as lies: prevarications bent on softening

the notion that one had to notice gravity,

and value it far more than suavity.

To let a doctor regularly itemize one’s

innards, ups and downs and ins and outs:

ach: too many bouts with actuality for me.

Bewilderment begat neglect: and I went

 

bodiless into my fretful fantasies: except,

of course, regarding matters of erecting

certain parts of flesh: but that just led one

back to one’s involved and self-enveloped

mesh. Meanwhile, my mouth became

a silent witness to its mess: no pain –

but gently rotted through its grain down

to the bone. One notices most things at last.

 

How strange to undergo the scaffolding –

expensive expertise – of others knowing

what to do with you. Today they’ve

populated my astonished mouth. Perhaps

at this late age I found I’ve got a north

and south. Perhaps I’ve finally accepted

my existence and responsibly can celebrate

the full and physical amount of it.

 

I wouldn’t count on it.

 

 

January 31, 2007

 

Seven Years Ago, Predawn

 

Memories are stories, really: ends

of months, small boxes on a calendar –

the moment I recall with you suspends

their fiction – floods it with surrender, or

 

a deeper blindness to a disbelief –

faintly tinted – opal grays and ambers –

tintype of another era: thief

of every cold resistance: clambers

 

over inhibitions to be seen –

what does it want to touch so urgently? –

I cannot think how I could ever wean

my heart from its hot dark insurgency.

 

Skin – predawn – so smooth against you: spoon

cups spoon: blasted languor of the moon.

 

 

January 30, 2007

 

Boadicea in New York

 

You look at her and think of whalebone –

scaffolding and width and girth

of clipper ship – a latitude

and longitude of hip: a horizontal sway

 

she is the scarifying blue and white

and freezing day – billowing

like some unleashed revenge –

an uncontained appalling female might:

 

she aims her breasts like cannon –

sails right at the brittle city – woe

to its fragility! – I bow as she proceeds –

and watch her court catastrophe:

 

striding off the curb: a grudging

cab stops short of her disturbing mass –

she deigns to let his growling engine pass.

Large lady, are you what you

 

seem – what I surmise? – a cold dream

fallen from the skies – Boadicea

come to rescue us from battle-gray

Manhattan and our January sighs?

 

 

January 29, 2007

 

Boudoir

 

Approach the form – seems calcified –

as if the aim in an embrace of it were

paving and arranging city streets:

rectangular severity: barnacles in grid:

manacled and chained to the temerity

 

of suppositions such as this: that with

sufficient exercise of will the very pull

and spill of climate might be forcibly

arraigned: the rain be made to come in

sheets as perpendicular to concrete as

 

a Bauhaus frame – the sun completely

clearly to appear as outlined sphere of

an untainted white: the sight and purity

of which would lull one into thinking

everything was then, and would now

 

always be, all right. No wonder we love

form: but don’t we also love what it does

not debunk?: the warm and slippery:

the funk and frippery. What I would say

to you if you were me and I were you is:

 

lighten up before you tighten up: leave

room within the loom for sweat and

breath: round your colors in the ground

of galvanizing death. Teach your heart

a hex. Build a boudoir in your art for sex.

 

 

January 28, 2007

 

Naked, and in Miniature

 

The landscape crowds with everyone I know –

naked, and in miniature: trains disgorge their loud

and tiny living element – no matter where I go,

gorgeous sweet confusion – mad profusion: all

these bare and tender creatures nuzzling my lap –

 

creeping up my chest and shoulders, leaping

off my back – carousing and arousing – buckling,

suckling on my thumb or teething on my fingertip,

and nosing crotch – and loving – shoving into –

every notch and hollow of my secrecies: the peak

 

of these peculiar musings comes at the expense

of sleep: I wake and shatter into mist and lose

the galvanizing deep and gleam of dreams and

wonder at what separates Night’s reassuring

“is” from Day’s abrupt and unpersuasive “seems.”

 

 

January 27, 2007

 

Bodily Equivalent of Sigh

 

It is the arc of you that I would follow –

capture – if I could: the art nouveau of you

that swallows air as if with blushing

Beardsley ink and brush: a curve and swell

of arm and back and leg that I’d not be

 

unmoved to peg as intellect – if it were not

so out of sync with what could ever be

defined as “think” – a fine selection in your

face, your flesh, your skin: a flash – black

gold within – that renders thought unsafe:

 

I would surrender like a coward at the first

sign in your eye that seemed remotely

to imply you wouldn’t mind if I came by.

Oh, what are you that, dreaming you, I'd

turn into this bodily equivalent of sigh? 

 

 

January 26, 2007

 

Hitch

 

My consciousness

wants to hitchhike

out of me: thumb up,

pleading for a ride.

 

It thinks it would get

in your car but

you won't stop.

 

Instead: lobotomy –

a chop and lop?

Maybe then you’d

visit it, post-op.

 

 

January 25, 2007

 

Outline

 

It’s hard enough to capture

in the mind – worse, and better,

than the scrim with which you

cloud, divide and limn a poem:

 

outlines are the most your keys

can draw: and those too poor

to make as much as shadow:

faced with feasts of feelings, souls:

 

dig holes: plant rocks instead

of seeds: your stony garden

cannot muster even weeds.

How many care that anyone’s

 

around at all? Watch Richard

(burdened) and Elizabeth – too

tailored for their kitschy perpetuity

to notice what they’re doing

 

in a movie: Boom! – oh, 1968! –

why were you when we never

needed you? Well, why is anything.

One among the many. Sing.

 

 

January 24, 2007

 

Pulled Pork

 

The mess seems like a barbecue –

a sweetish bitter sauce –

the barest clues about beginnings

 

and the ends of you are tossed

into its red and glossy stew.

What makes us fake the glimmer of

 

a singular identity – a “self” – a “you”?

Could we imagine we are

constellations and survive?

 

Accept we are at least a billion bees

carousing in the hive? Bees

make honey to remain alive.

 

There's honey in the gravy on my meat.

Perhaps I can imagine I am bees and

sweets: a billion eaters and a billion eats.

 

Perhaps it isn't necessary to imagine

one is one. Pull up to my pulled pork:

and fork me up 'til we're all done.

 

 

January 23, 2007

 

Within My Lover’s Arms

 

Some can elucidate their love –

but that would only tangle me.

Do you describe the skin or how

the feeling hovers like a wind

that offers you the whole of what

you know to breathe? I'd choose

to tell you down to some last

 

atom what most pleases me –

but I would need sophisticated

scientific apparatuses for whose

employment I have neither aptitude

nor expertise. I'll tell you what I see.

Black barren railing kept from rust

just barely by eroding paint: dim

 

wash of light on its perfunctory

erection, seen through half-closed

blinds which insulate me from

the January cold: electric heat

hums comically with faint effect.

I am the product of my lover’s

memories of me: their whirligiggy

 

surface holds me in so I won't float

up, through and out, away into

my lover’s latest riots – routs –

incorrigibly fighting – brutal mass

of bloody chaos! – wonder that

my lover lasts and lasts. I note

no change from year to year:

 

my lover alters trappings – strips

and re-habilitates and shifts

unending gears: but stays as

ageless as the moon. I swoon –

too many charms! I will do anything

I have to do to wake, sleep, live

and die within my lover’s arms.

 

 

January 22, 2007

 

Spin Cycle

 

You accept there is nothing within

you can ever express without choice –

it’s a lesson in virtues of spin:

one must marshal the untrammeled voice.

 

If a king opted only to bray

indiscriminately from his throne –

and spent no time in paring away

his slam, scrabble and scree – you'd get moan.

 

And yet funneling things down a chute –

separating what’s crap from what’s not –

give the good stuff the high sign and boot

out the bad – may end up not as hot

 

but as rot. So there’s no guarantee

that your spinning will win, although when

you re-fashion the thing: jubilee!

there are times you'll experience Zen! –

 

‘til the second go-round or the third:

and the enterprise cracks like an egg –

sat on too hard by some zealous bird:

what you've spun descends more than a peg –

 

and you're back where you started: afraid

to re-shuffle the pack and re-deal

yet new cards for new games to be paid

new attention: you'd just as soon steal

 

someone else’s successfully gauged

spin of something that’s been a success:

so you do, and you find you're enraged

at yourself for coercing a ‘yes’

 

disingenuously as if you

had just thought up the spin on your own.

You decide, as you grimly review

your behavior, “oh – opt for the moan.”

 

 

January 21, 2007

 

The Defining Thing

 

I'm shocked that you are the defining thing,

not death or grief or joy or love or life:

some summer night is trapped in you to sing

a warm brown sorrow – alchemizing strife

 

into an alloy of deliverance –

one look at you and I am underwater –

swallow you in an amphibian’s

wet dream – we swim and gleam – and slaughter

 

every other scheme I've ever had:

how strange to want to let you know that one

and one might possibly make two: but: sad

foreboding: surely doomed to be undone.

 

The obstacle – stark, brutal, frozen, true:

I can't imagine ever telling you.

 

 

January 20, 2007

 

What Else is New

 

Back into the glove? (ha) 

as if the hand had

ever left it, ever could.

What else is new. You

aren’t cynical: today

you’re what your mother’s

generation knew as ‘blue.’

You rub as far into the skin

 

as you are able to, or dare:

and feel the contours

of someone who is

and isn’t there, and is

and isn’t you. You can’t

feel more. It’s like you

get right to the door and

then you stop: too long.

 

Perhaps the only possibility

is to contrive a song.

And so you do. (What

else is new.) Try to

sing it and you gasp –

as if through masking.

You wonder what

you’re not quite asking.

 

 

January 19, 2007

 

Above the Fruited Plain

 

A piously empty gallantry

as prep for the stab of a knife –

one of uncountable ways

to wield a miserable life.

 

Your prurient capacity

to love displaced despair! –

to play the devil’s advocate –

and secretly prepare

 

for someone else’s downfall –

dark glee in disguise

of caring: really what

you're hoping for’s a rise

 

in pressure, temperature

in your intended prey:

death might be too much,

perhaps, but let it rule the day

 

by innuendo. Leaden as

each link of Marley’s chain –

your soaring purpose sags.

Above the fruited plain

 

you cast a ghastly shadow.

Certainty weighs into doubt

as green below you greys.

Bale the hatred out.

 

 

January 18, 2007

 

What Baby Gods Must Learn

 

Grown-up gods?: too self-absorbed by half! –

so baby gods must learn soon to usurp

with more than an involuntary burp

their parents' lapsed attention: make ‘em laugh

 

is what they'll try: to play the cutest calf

by calculating how – with infant chirp

or canny timing of cartoon-y slurp –

they might discover means of turning gaffe

 

into a cure for feeling left outside:

but lest we choose to take the godlets’ cue –

think chuckles will assuage disparity –

 

heed rumors that divinities decide –

by factors of infinities-times-two –

they've always misconstrued hilarity.

 

 

January 17, 2007

 

Catalogue Raisonné

 

After it has ended, surely you'll

be venerated: quantities of ink

will underscore, highlight your art as jewel! –

not scrap-heap ramblings of a fool. But sink

 

or rise, your reputation won't be aimed

at storming Heaven's door: Verity

you want to claim is some great gleaming famed

appurtenance hinged to Posterity.

 

Sort through your encomia – your gold:

elaborate the solid evidence –

the record of its having both foretold –

and fought resistance to – your eminence.

 

Death – without a catalogue raisonné?

Fear – that life is vacuous: straw and hay.

 

 

January 16, 2007

 

Release

 

His raging mind – intense, hot, apoplectic –

consumes itself in wild attempts at cure –

it makes the sentient mass of him dyspeptic –

and rids him of all certainty. Unsure,

 

he pokes his embers with a blackened finger –

seeks some hardened product in the soot –

some lasting piece of something that might linger

as unassailability: his foot

 

distracts him - itches: when he scratches it –

and registers the bloom of quick relief –

he wonders at the lift: and matches it

with memories from childhood of a grief:

 

his mother died – and in a storm, his pain

released as he walked out into the rain.

 

 

January 15, 2007

 

Grab-bag

 

Perhaps it’s not that I would stuff a thing

into a form: but rather that the form

is starving for a meal: will wrest and wring

whatever it can steal to keep it warm

 

and real: perhaps it doesn't care for giving –

is no testament to selfless love:

its constant hunger is to go on living –

lure a stranger’s hand into its glove.

 

Let it grasp, then, what it may, or will –

create and mold what helps the creature breathe –

damn whatever hot effluents spill –

allow it fleshily to writhe and seethe – 

 

or so I stab at how it could be true

the grab-bag of my mind is filled with you.

 

 

January 14, 2007

 

Anything that Glistens

 

My mind’s the problem: years

of bludgeoning the thing have

turned the whole damned

enterprise to one vast tentative

surmise: every moment’s data

 

make it wonder what damned

thing is now the matter. It

and I cannot collude remotely

to conclude one salutary,

solitary or inarguable fact.

 

I listen to you, darling, and

I hear a tiger snarling, spiraling

around: I grab your back

and watch your magnitudes

abound, clawing up the ground

 

to dust and mixing it with sky:

you say you wonder “who am I?”

and tiger, honey, I have no idea

of anything but that we both

appear still to be relatively here.

 

Something spits and sweats

and cries and bleeds and

something heeds and listens:

somewhere I was told: anything

that glistens must be gold.

 

 

January 13, 2007

 

But I Can’t

 

But I can't – what is this mess of flaming bush that

girds you like impregnability?: strange word! –

am I not your child?: something wild and atomized

prevents my ever coming close: what dose of what

would cure this dark divisiveness?: no notion of your

motive – ever – nothing to suggest whatever you

might once have felt, or might be feeling now – below,

above: no love I can detect: I have no clue what

to suspect – no wonder I devise these cheap-trick

 

rhymes: I am betimes a spinning top: let loose by

your indifferent hand: why on heaven, hell or Earth

did I appear at your command: what did you want,

and was I it? I'll try to keep from asininely chiming

assonances: to break out of all this fetid thickness:

frankly, darlings, you're not here, and if I don't construct

distractions – overreaching poetry: obelisks a phallus –

some erection that connects to what suggests

at least illusorily some slight sense of getting ‘free’ –

 

oh, let me sail away into that sea. Who knows who

you are, who you ever were, or who I might decide

you'll one day be. Stupid rhymes: what do I end with:

“whee”?  As in, fuck you – don't barge into my spree?

Finally some clarity! – maybe I can use this rabid

terrible ferocity to help me sever all the cords that

strangle and adhere between us: end this silly fuss,

and kick you in your various varieties of pant – give

a noble explicating purpose to this rant. But I can't.

 

 

January 12, 2007

 

Meat

 

Paramecia grown large!: what instinct

is in charge? This flesh, this mesh

and weight of stuff: this heavy jelly

in the cranium: belly, brain and bum –

never seem to have enough and yet

are crammed with just as much as

we can stow into the dough of them:

 

we think we can forego the physical

and leap into the metaphysic ozone:

bound out of our bonds like frogs from

murky ponds and jump into a fonder

region: float to light dimensions far

beyond the dreams our mammal meat

could possibly contrive. But that’s

 

a lot of jive. What would it be like to

be alive and not be us? How would

we appear to tourists bussed in from

Andromeda? Phenomena unsuited

to the task? Who’s inside whom we can

ask, entreat? Underneath the mask

is mask: underneath the meat is meat.

 

 

January 11, 2007

 

Jerry-Built

 

I wonder if he’s merry, Jerry – if glee accounts

for why whatever he constructs so quickly

self-destructs: or if he’s just persnickety –

which makes his products rickety. But my!

he gets around. The things he brings his lack

of expertise to – constitute about the whole

 

shebang: harangue him though you may,

the ordered and the found all founder from

his carefree touch: it’s gotten just a trifle much.

Planned obsolescence? Maybe. A secret

hankering for chaos? Not so secret. Cavalier –

perhaps he sneers at any expectation or

 

presumption things could last. Perhaps he

leers while watching us attempt to hold

the past: pretend it possibly could pass as new:

perhaps he likes to see us stew and grumble

as stuff crumbles. Maybe he’s eternally

distracted: would rather see starlight refracted

 

in infinities of startling ways than worry

whether something goes or stays. He’s got

a hand in every life: and makes each balance

fragile. Stay alert: be agile – ready for surprise.

He has no shame about configuring your

imminent demise. No buried guilt in jerry-built.

 

 

January 10, 2007

 

Another Perfect Disinclination

 

Despite your having just incited me to yet

another perfect disinclination to exist, or write –

 

I shall persist: not fearfully: no – cheerfully!

(you taught me how to steel the gut for cheer):

 

but: come onwhat’s your deal? I know

you are what makes me feel: you steal each

 

moment of my conscious and unconscious

life – veil it in the misty exhalation of a banshee

 

wail: I search your trail for ways to do your odd

reliability – your constancy – some justice:

 

to convey the splay of your vast disinhibiting

array of feeling, thought: when I connect with

 

your demonstrable assertion of the blankest

naught, there’s nothing to be fought or gained:

 

you startle heart and brain with promise and

delivery of an exquisite strain: you are what

 

starts and ends as orgasm: morbidity? – no part

of you: you're rather the occasion for a blast:

 

soar! – bits of me! – explode to quantum lunacy:

the present, future, past? – you break all molds

 

in which incarnate life is cast: you’re free

from capture: is that what lasts – your rapture?

 

 

January 9, 2007

 

Good Day

 

Yesterday I fell into the labyrinthine lure

of thinking it would be a pleasure to abjure

the commonplace: regale myself with ‘special’

treasures: sex, or deep-fried onion rings –

or maybe napping to a Chopin nocturne:

what a shock – turn – stark exoticism – then –

 

to slam into the understanding that the day

already had come fully packed – no lily needed

gilding: no flower, could, in fact, be given any

power that it didn't have: no ache required salve.

I find myself ensconced in a precisely tailored

building of a self: nothing need be added to

 

the shelf – nor anything withdrawn: all blades

of grass accounted for in this capacious lawn:

no costume to put on, no armor to take off.

It’s true: I have a little cough: but even that

seems right. Another bit of chiaroscuro, hinting

at the coming night, bids me love the light.

 

 

January 8, 2007

 

Keats’ Urn, Revisited

 

One hadn’t had to have quite such a bad

opinion of the boy: in fact, the child in the man

(just past thirty, he was both) allowed him to

regard the Universe as one big toy – though this

by no means guaranteed him joy – intermittently

 

it bored him – but his callowness was more

than charming: bore the earmarks of a God

who’d (God knew) trodden everywhere already:

what could possibly be new? Steadily disarming:

nothing knows ennui like freshly blossomed flesh:

 

it’s got an edge at understanding the eternal:

what it feels like to be deathless: breathless, yes,

the rest of us, but we can’t know divinity in quite

an equal way. A part of the sublimity: forgetfulness –

we cannot for the lives of us retain what we knew

 

too when we were they. Enough of generalities:

his black hair was too thick, his skin too fair

and sweet for that: he made all hot protuberances

grow as fat as autumn at the harvest: preparation

for inevitable starving in the winter. It is winter

 

now, and he – if he’s alive – is nearly forty:

he’s forgotten, too, what he was once was: we are

where amnesia dwells. But maybe at the level

of our cells, we’ll always have a clue. If truth

is beauty, beauty truth: truth is sometimes youth.

 

 

January 7, 2007

 

Reprieve, or: On Getting Stuck

on a Phrase of William James

 

He would incline generally to that view of the phenomena

of life which makes them result from the general laws of –

 

what was I thinking? I’m late for the cat. I wonder at that.

Some four-legged being less different in kind than degree

from me: waiting uptown for redemption – delivery: waiting,

but how? He remembers as soon as he sees: alone and

awake: what does he make of the whole shebang now?

 

He would incline generally to that view of the phenomena

of life which makes them result from the general laws of –

 

brushing his coat ‘til it’s silk: pouring him generous milk –

I’m late for the cat, but grateful for subways which run

less on weekends and therefore supply me the time to

sit back on a bench and entrench myself deep in a book –

William James, who like Adam, gave everything names –

 

He would incline generally to that view of the phenomena

of life which makes them result from the general laws of –

 

resisting the tide of his father and brothers and mother

and sister and piercing the hide of Existence to find there

was nothing to side with but passion he cooked up alone:

subway moans and arrives: I move up through the centuries

sooner, not later, to find my ward, Boycat, alive and alert:

 

He would incline generally to that view of the phenomena

of life which makes them result from the general laws of –

 

bodily contact: providing dessert as our just deserts: rain

on the desert – excessive caressing, can’t have too much

skin, can’t have too much life, breath or brushing without

and within: New York City is sometimes unwinnable – hard:

touch the cat; go away: believe – for a moment. Reprieve.

 

 

January 6, 2007

 

Man Working

 

Engaged assiduously in random interpretations, kept

mostly to myself, I tread the pavements of New York

and probably resemble less an artist than a dork: I’m

gullible and fall for everything. Manikins are obvious

to you: they startle me into a reverie of why such oddly

 

angled people should be standing in a window. Need

a haircut: ergo go to my beloved Russian barbers:

all of whom now know there’s money giving buzz-cuts

to gay men: to which I say (they’re good at it): amen.

The bleached blonde lady is my favorite: glows with

 

slightly weary savoir-faire: I savor it and how she cuts

my hair. She asks me if I have the day off: at which

question I’m bewildered: what would I put off, or on?

I’m as involved at evening as at dawn with what it is

I do: no matter where I am, I’m looking under, over,

 

in and through. I tell her that I work out of my home;

she says how lucky I must be, but doesn’t ask me

where that is, so I will not divulge it’s here. She goes

back to the near-to-skin be-cropping of my fuzz. I’m

not sure why this conversation matters, but it does.

 

 

January 5, 2007

 

Free Will – Three Etudes on a Theme

 

 

I – Salt Lick

 

The question of free will occurs – and briefly

entertains, until (perhaps to get on with one’s day)

one maybe too impatiently demurs: decides

that brains will do what brains will do, and what’s

for dinner anyway? I open the refrigerator door –

and know I ought to shut it instantly: no more!

 

Too late: I've eyed the olives – stuffed, addictive! –

as if they were smack or crack to which I was

a hopeless slave – as if some atavistic me were

bent on kneeling gravely to the pillar of astringency

that makes these ornamental khaki-green and

Christmas-red divertissements the odd exalted

 

creatures that they are. What star afflicts? Oh why

oh why am I affixed to – must I lick – so damned

much sodium? Ascend the podium: berate me,

doctor tell me not to heed its call! My pressure's

high: I'm heading for a fall. What’s in it, after all, that

I perversely and so badly need? Free will indeed.

 

 

II – Pigeon Hole

 

I used to bang the air conditioner – kick or hit it,

slam it with a hammer – anything to get that

damnably insistent yammer underneath outside

the window to – oh, please god! – cease. I'm just

as willing as the next guy to let viscera be viscera,

but gotta have some peace. Guttural and animal

and rhythmically propulsive – kooo-ah kooo-ah

 

kooo-ah kooo-ah: pigeon's glottal stops were out

of its control: a kind of endless rock and roll of

some completely absent brain – instinctually trained –

was making me insane. Until one waning night:

the day had almost become light: I heard the bird

again, surrendered to its plaintive repetitions and

allowed myself to requisition some compassion

 

for the thing: its grit had smoothed: I now imagined

it was soothing itself out of grief. I knew what that

was like – and like a thief I crept up to the window

to affix my ear as close as I could get it to the sill

outside – on which my pigeon had instilled its rippling

and eliding glides and sighs, robotically applied: as if,

involuntarily, to make me bleed. Free will indeed.

 

 

III – Put Away

 

Oh, joy – relief! The damned thing’s off and packed

and put away! I hated you each day I had to see you

twinkling there, like some demented schizophrenic

with non sequiturs and squoodles in her hair: why did

I pull you out at all? Your silly dangling nonsenses: all

full of pall and gloom and visual cacophony when you

purported you'd regale the room with laughter, glee

 

and glow. To you I fart a fat resounding No! And yet

how carefully I swaddled, lifted you as if you were

the absolutely most important, precious thing I know.

Artificial Xmas tree! What is your hold on me? You are

the fruit of my identity, my lock and key, my past: you

are my mama’s ass. Next year you will proceed to

sprinkle more of your intolerable seed. Free will indeed.

 

 

January 4, 2007

 

Style of Mind

 

Reminds me of an Escher print,

his mind: its staircase winds

incontrovertibly in quick ascent –

onto a landing in the basement: up

 

and down? Occasions for dissent

between the sky and ground: which

yet retain a sense of being tethered

to a heart: in part, a fine finesse;

 

the rest, diffuse – undressed. He

ruminates – illuminates a lucent

density: the oxymoron of a calm and

startled smile proclaims intelligence –

 

arriving in its idiosyncratic style.

Beats and tunes of thought! Victims,

victors in the wars we have no inkling

we have fought. But his complexity

 

redeems. In him I find an invitation

to assess the prison of perception

as a freeing field of dreams. He swings

to contradict himself – and gleams.

 

 

January 3, 2007

 

Sometimes Adonis Passes By

 

Seems to me youth flickers on and off

in mirrors – brightly fires itself into blunt

being with a turn three-quarters to the right –

then flips left – scatters out of sight: it’s odd

 

to be alive at fifty-five. Unfathomably unincised,

sometimes; at others, very torn. I wonder

if my face is quite as worn as it seemed in

fluorescence in the men’s room in the diner

 

I just came from: just the light? – or some

denial lifting in me just for spite? Without

a bit of blindness no one would go on: select

your opaque curtain: then attend, behind it,

 

to what hope can conjure up as certain, calm:

but oh! – it’s odd to be alive at fifty-five.

Sometimes Adonis passes by – suggests to me

that I am he, or could be. I'll listen to that lie.

 

 

January 2, 2007

 

A Soft Defeat

 

I’m losing my relation

to icons I have stored:

A gradual ablation

now seems to have restored

 

them to the void: less dust

to dust than flesh to air –

a ravaging deep rust

despite what I see there:

 

the outward forms of frame

and photo, ornate seat

and desk all seem the same:

but there’s a soft defeat

 

in all of it: a loss

despite their being bright –

in view; a heavy toss

of fate: no longer light

 

with life, but dead with dreams

gone blank. No memory

can close their gaping seams.

I cast about for shimmery

 

vestigial sprites: an eft

or newt or toad or asp –

imaginary liveness left

to gratify a living grasp:

 

but nothing’s moving here –

no magic pulse prevails:

no joy or love or fear –

no last heartbeat avails.

 

 

January 1, 2007

 

 

No Mute Button

 

Take my remote, and turn my TV off:

fake chatter turns to clatter on my

air-conditioner, outside: from rain.

The patter’s bleak and too inviting to

endure: raindrops seem sure only of

gravity: which hints at an inevitable end –

demise – reminds me of the foolishness – 

 

inefficacy – of disguise: which surely

is what hope is. And so I see if I can

sidle past myself – and get a rise out

of the radio. The Beethoven Violin

Concerto springs to life: the soloist

repeats obsessively arpeggiated swings:

as if he’s stuck in one small rut of strife:

 

again, again, again – it’s only harmony

beneath that lends a graduating

meaning: then, again, I've had enough

of noise, and flick the switch for silence.

Drops have turned to mist and now

I hear the faintest hiss of my computer

motor, running, humming in its

 

machinated way to commandeer its

quantum leaps so that I might be given

the deceptive simulacrum of a unity:

push this, Dear User, and “I'll” give

you that. Gray light grows fat: my

courtyard is as full of night as day:

humidity is high and yet Existence has

 

a thirst on January First that stuns

one out of countenance. Maybe I'm

the thirsty one. Surely if I had been able

to excise all sound, I might have found

a clue. But: there’s the pumping blood

inside my head. (Oh: try to keep

from rhyming, at the end, with “dead”!)

 

 

 

December 31, 2006

 

I Won't Take No for an Answer

 

I won't take no for an answer. But nor will I trust yes.

What will I take for an answer – an educated

guess? Not unless what feeds the blind surmise has

 

some relation to what human eyes have seen

peripherally – on the sly. I'll listen to the lone reply

which, passing, nods to the overt but readily cavorts

 

with the covert: whose sense is dense, and never

offers recompense to expectation: tinted with 

a hint but otherwise is full of wanton cry. I'll heed

 

the banshee wail whose note is hard to tell from

wind in sail: the herald who proclaims an arbitrary list

of names as if each had precisely equal meaning:

 

leaning towards whatever momentary spurt of motion’s

just occurred: is spurred no less by void than it

avoids a cancer. That’s what I'll take for an answer.

 

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